Driver and Passenger Characters

Four of the eight archetypal characters in Dramatica story theory are the prime movers of the story, and it is their interactions that determine the thrust of the effort to address the story’s problem. The other four are “back seat drivers” — perhaps highly interested in the outcome, but rather than forcing the plot, they influence those who do force the plot. Remember, these descriptions are only applicable in a general way but serve to make comparisons between similar traits of characters. In Dramatica, we group four similar items that are interrelated into a simple table called a quad. So, we can create a quad of Driver Characters and a quad of Passenger Characters.

The Driver Quad

In simple stories, the Protagonist, Antagonist, Guardian, and Contagonist are all major drivers of the story. Whatever the object of their efforts, Protagonist will be trying to achieve it, Antagonist will be trying to prevent its achievement, Guardian will act to aid the achievement, and Contagonist will act to hinder (although Guardian and Contagonist may not be directly concerned with the goal itself or even each other). Regardless of their personal levels of awareness, each of these Characters seen Objectively acts with a unique drive that represents a basic Motivation of the Story Mind.

For example, if the Protagonist wants to build a shopping center, the Antagonist will not want it built. The Contagonist might get an injunction delaying construction so it can profit from a stock deal, even though it may like to see the center built eventually, and the Guardian might find a legal loophole to overturn the injunction, perhaps just as a by-product of another matter it is representing in court.

Remember, these Objective Characters are not judged by how THEY see the story, but how WE see them affecting the story.

The Passenger Quad

Quad Two: The Passenger Characters

Unlike the first quad, these four Characters are not the prime movers of the story, but rather ride the coattails of the Driver Characters. If not for the Drivers, the Passengers would not even be involved with the problem. Each represents an approach or attitude in the story: Sidekick is forever faithful while Skeptic is forever doubting; Reason acts on the basis of logic and Emotion responds from feelings. Of course, each of these Characters also has its own motivations, but seen Objectively as part of the Story Mind they represent different approaches and attitudes toward solving the problem.

Before we sub-divide the Archetypal Characters into their basic Elements, let’s get a better feel for them by examining the Drivers and Passengers in several well known stories.

From the Dramatica Theory Book

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