Main Character Resolve

The first Essential Character Dynamic determines if the Main Character will be a changed person at the end of a story. From an author’s perspective, selecting Change or Steadfast sets up the kind of argument that will be made about the effort to solve the story’s problem.

There are two principal approaches through which an author can illustrate the best way to solve the Problem explored in a story: One is to show the proper way of going about solving the Problem, the other is to show the wrong way to solve the Problem.

  • To illustrate the proper way, your Main Character must hold on to his Resolve and remain Steadfast if he is to succeed, because he truly is on the right path.
  • To illustrate the improper way of dealing with a Problem, your Main Character must change to succeed, for he is going about it the wrong way.

Of course, Success is not the only Outcome that can befall a Main Character. Another way to illustrate that an approach for dealing with a Problem is proper would be to have the Main Character Change his way of going about it and fail. Similarly, the improper way can be illustrated by a Main Character that remains Steadfast and fails.

So, choosing Change or Steadfast really has nothing directly to do with being correct or incorrect; it just describes whether the Main Character’s ultimate Resolve is to stay the course or try a different tack.

Just because a Main Character should remain Steadfast does not mean he doesn’t consider changing. In fact, that is a temptation with which he is constantly faced: to give up or alter his approach in the face of ever-increasing opposition.

Even if, in spite of difficulties and suffering, the Main Character remains steadfast, the audience may still not want him to ultimately succeed. This is because simply being steadfast does not mean one is correct.

If the audience is shown that a character is misguided yet remains steadfast, the audience will hope for his ultimate failure.

Similarly, a Change Main Character does not mean he is changing all the time. In fact, in most cases, the Change Main Character will resist change, all the way to the moment of truth where he must choose once and for all to continue down his original path, or to jump to the new path by accepting change in himself or his outlook.

Regardless of the benefits to be had by remaining steadfast, the audience will want the Change Main Character ultimately to succeed if he is on the wrong path and changes. However, if he does not change, the audience will want him to lose all the benefits he thought he had gained.

Your selection of Change or Steadfast has wide-ranging effects on the dynamics of your story. Such things as the relationship between the Objective and Subjective Story Throughlines and the order of exploration of your thematic points is adjusted in the Dramatica model to create and support the ultimate decision of your Main Character to either change or remain steadfast.

From the Dramatica Theory Book