Main Character • The Character representing the audience position in a story • A story has a central character that acts as the focus of the audience’s emotional attachment to the story. This Main Character is the conduit through whom the audience experiences the story subjectively. The Main Character may be the Steadfast Character who needs to hold on to his resolve or the Change Character who alters his nature in an attempt to resolve his problems. Either way, it is mostly through his eyes that we see the passionate argument of the story, if not also the dispassionate argument.
Main Character’s Benchmark • [Type] • the standard by which the degree of the Main Character’s growth is indicated • the way of telling how much the Main Character is dealing with the issues at stake for himself in the story is by choosing an item in the story and using it as a measuring stick. This can be subtle or obvious, illustrated perhaps by the number of empty beer cans next to an alcoholic’s bed, the severity of a facial tick, or the amount of perfume a character puts on. However it is illustrated, it needs to be there to give both the audience and the Main Character some way of judging how deep his concern is and how far along in the story he is.
Main Character’s Concern • [Type] • The issue or issues held in greatest importance by the Main Character’ • The Main Character Concern describes the kinds of things the Main Character is striving to attain or maintain. This could be in terms of concrete or abstract things, depending partly on the Main Character’s Domain and partly on the twist the author wants to put on that Domain.
Main Character’s Critical Flaw • [Variation] • the quality that undermines the Main Character’s efforts • To balance the Main Character’s extraordinary status conveyed by his Unique Ability, he must also be shown to be especially vulnerable in one area as well. This vulnerability is called his Critical Flaw. The Main Character’s Critical Flaw is his Achilles heel that prevents him from being too one-sided. Just as with Unique Ability, the Critical Flaw can be quite mundane as long as it can threaten him with failure from an unprotectable direction. The specific Critical Flaw must be unique to the Main Character in the story. However, the more common the Critical Flaw is to the audience, the more it will identify with the Main Character’s predicament. In Start stories, the Critical Flaw inhibits the Main Character from using his Unique Ability. In Stop stories, the Critical Flaw undoes work done by the Unique Ability after the fact. Only when the Main Character learns to either Start or Stop as required by the story can the Critical Flaw be avoided, allowing his Unique Ability to solve the problem.
Main Character’s Direction • [Element] • The response of the Main Character to his apparent problems • A Main Character can never be sure if what he believes to be the source of his problem really is the source of his problem. Regardless, based on his apparent problems he will determine a potential solution or Direction which he hopes will work as a solution. The dramatic unit that describes what a Main Character holds as the path to a solution is the Main Character Direction.
Main Character Domain • [Domain] • the realm of the Main Character’s personal journey and growth • Everything the Main Character does and represents that primarily relates to him alone, as opposed to specific relationships he has with other characters, can be said to be part of the Main Character Domain. There are four different perspectives in the structure of any story represented by the combination of each of the four Classes with each of the four Domains– the Objective Story Domain, the Subjective Story Domain, the Obstacle Character Domain, and the Main Character Domain. The Main Character Domain describes in the broadest single term what the Main Character represents and the area in which the Main Character operates within the story.
Main Character’s Focus • [Element] • where The Main Character believes the problem to be; where the Main Character’s attention is focused • When a Main Character is at odds with his surroundings, a problem exists between himself and his environment. The actual nature of this gap between Main Character and environment is described by the Problem Element. The nature of what is required to restore balance is described by the Solution Element. This is the Objective view of the problem. The Main Character, however, is not privy to that view and must work from the Subjective view instead. From the Subjective view, the problem does not appear to be between the Main Character and the Environment but wholly in one or the other. Sometimes a Main Character is a “Do-er” type and will perceive and first try to solve the problem in the environment. Other times a Main Character is a “Be-er” who will first try to solve the problem by adapting to the environment. A “Do-er” focuses the problem in the environment; a “Be-er” focuses the problem in himself. The Focus Element describes the nature of how the problem appears to the Main Character when he places it wholly in one area or the other.
Main Character’s Issue • [Variation] • the Main Character’s personal thematic focus, topic, or value standard • A Main Character’s Issue captures the essence of what that character will represent in the story. The nature of the things he does, intends to do, and what he means to the passionate argument of the story are all linked in this appreciation.
Main Character Problem • [Element] • source of The Main Character’s drive; the source of the Main Character’s problems • In every Main Character there exists some inequity that is driving him. If the Main Character Changes something in himself at the leap of faith, it is this item, his Problem, which he changes by exchanging it for his Solution. If the Main Character is Steadfast, though, he holds onto his problem, deepening his resolve to keep the same motivations through the end of the story as he had when he began the story.
Main Character’s Solution • [Element] • what is needed to truly satisfy The Main Character’s drive; the solution to the Main Character’s problems • The Solution Element is the “flip side” of the Problem Element. In a story, the focus may be on the Problem Element (“The Main Character should not be this way”) or the focus may be on the Solution Element (“The Main Character should be this way”). If the Main Character should not be a certain way, we say it is a “Stop” story as he must stop being a certain way. If the Main Character should be a certain way, we say it is a “Start” story as he must start being a certain way. So in a sense the Problem Element is not by itself the cause of the story’s problem, but works in conjunction with the Solution Element to create an imbalance between two traits that need to be balanced. The choice to present one as a negative trait defines it as the Problem Element and its positive partner becomes the Solution Element.
Main Character’s Unique ability • [Variation] • the quality that makes The Main Character uniquely qualified to solve the story’s problem • Just as a requirement defines the specific nature of things needed to achieve a particular goal, Unique Ability defines the specific quality needed to meet the requirement. Unique Ability is another way in which the Main Character is identified as the intersecting point between the Subjective and Objective stories as it is only he who ultimately has what it takes to meet the test of the requirement and thereby achieve the goal. The Unique Ability need not be anything extraordinary but must be the one crucial quality required that is shared by no one else. Frequently, the Unique Ability is in keeping with the Main Character’s position or profession, however it can be much more interesting to assign an incongruous Unique Ability. In either approach, it is essential to illustrate the existence of the Unique Ability in the Main Character several times throughout the story, even if it is not employed until the climax. In this way, it becomes integrated into the nature of the Main Character and does not seem conveniently tacked on when it is ultimately needed. Also, the Unique Ability can be extremely mundane. The key is that the ability does not have to be unique by nature, but just possessed uniquely in that specific story by the Main Character. Clever storytelling may arrange the climax of the story so that some completely ordinary and insignificant Unique Ability makes the difference in the outcome of a cosmic struggle.
Male Mental Sex • [Character Dynamic] • The Main Character uses inherantly male (linear) problem solving techniques • A choice of male selects a psychology for the Main Character based on causal relationships. A male Main Character solves problems by examining what cause or group of causes is responsible for an effect or group of effects. The effort made to solve the problem will focus on affecting a cause, causing an effect, affecting an effect, or causing a cause. This describes four different approaches. Affecting a cause is manipulating an existing force to change its eventual impact. Causing an effect means applying a new force that will create an impact. Affecting an effect is altering an effect after it has happened. Causing a cause is applying a new force that will make some other force come into play to ultimately create an impact. These are the four primary problem solving techniques of a male minded character. It is important to note that these techniques can be applied to either external or internal problems. Either way, manipulating cause and effect is the modus operandi. When selecting female or male, typically the choice is as simple as deciding if you want to tell a story about a man or a woman. But there is another consideration that is being employed with growing frequency in modern stories: putting the psyche of one sex into the skin of another. This does not refer only to the “sex change” comedies but to many action stories with female Main Characters (e.g. Aliens) and many decision stories with male Main Characters (Prince of Tides). When an author writes a part for a man, he/she would intuitively create a male psyche for that character. Yet by simply changing the name of the character from Joe to Mary and shifting the appropriate gender terms, the character would ostensibly become a woman. But that woman would not seem like a woman Even if all the specific masculine dialogue were changed, even if all the culturally dictated manifestations were altered, the underlying psyche of the character would have a male bias rather than a female bias. Sometimes stereotypes are propagated by what an audience expects to see which filters the message and dilutes the truth. By placing a male psyche in a female character, preconceptions no longer prevent the message from being heard. The word of warning is that this technique can make a Main Character seem “odd” in some hard to define way to your audience. So although the message may fare better, empathy between your audience and your Main Character may not.
Male • [Overview Appreciation] • men will tend to empathize with the main character in this story; women will tend to sympathize • Although there is much common ground in a story that is appreciated equally by women and men, some dramatic messages speak to one group more profoundly than the other. One particular area of difference is the relationship of female and male audience members to the Main Character. In some stories an audience member will feel Empathy with the Main Character, as if he/she were standing in the Main Character’s shoes. In other stories, an audience member will feel Sympathy for the Main Character, as if the Main Character is a close acquaintance. The dynamics that control this for women and men are quite different. “Male” indicates that as a result of this storyform’s dynamics, male audience members will tend to empathize with the Main Character. Female audience members will sympathize.
Memory • [Type] • dyn.pr. Conscious<–>Memory • recollections • The Past is an objective look at what has happened. In contrast, Memory is a subjective look at what has happened. Therefore, Memory of the same events varies among individuals creating many different and possibly conflicting recollections. Often one’s current feelings come from memories, both pleasant and unpleasant. Many a taut story revolves around a character’s effort to resolve open issues from his memories. • syn. linear reasoning, rationality, structural sensibility, syllogistics
Mental Sex • [Character Dynamic] • a determination of the Main Character’s inate mental operating system as being male (linear) or female (holistic)• Much of what we are as individuals is learned behavior. Yet the basic operating system of the mind is cast biologically before birth. Talents, intellectual capacity, instincts — all of these are not learned but inherited. Among these traits are those specific to females and others specific to males. To be sure, we can go a long way toward balancing out those traits yet that does not eliminate them nor diminish their impact. In dealing with the psychology of a Main Character, it is essential to understand upon which foundation his experience rests.
Methodology • the approach employed to achieve a purpose; an ongoing activity (physical or mental) without a purpose • When a character is motivated toward a particular purpose, there remains the decision of what means should be used to reach it. Not every possible Methodology is as appropriate as every other under unique circumstances. For example, if one wants to pound in a nail, a wrench would not work as well as a hammer. In fact, sometimes the whole problem in a story is created because someone is using the wrong tool for the right job. In creating Objective Characters for a given story, 16 of the 64 elements will be selected as the Methodology elements of the character set.
Mind • [Class] • dyn.pr. Universe<–>Mind • a fixed attitude or outlook • The Mind Class describes a fixed attitude. This can be a bias, prejudice, or even a “positive” opinion about anything at all. The key is that the attitude is fixed, meaning it is accepted as a given and not re-evaluated. Often the Mind Domain is represented by a group of people who share a common bias for or against something. • syn. attitude, fixation, position on an issue, fixed point of view, disposition
Morality • [Variation] • dyn.pr. Self Interest<–>Morality • doing or being based on what is best for others • Not to be taken as a spiritual or religious sense of right and wrong, Morality here is intended to describe the quality of character that puts others before self. This is not, however, always a good thing. If a character is besieged by Self-Interested parties that grasp and take whatever they can, Morality (in this limited sense) is most inappropriate. Also, Morality does not always require sacrifice. It simply means that a Moral character will consider the needs of others before his own. If the needs are compatible, it can create a win/win scenario where no one need suffer. • syn. selflessness, altruism, benevolence, generosity
Motivation • An underlying given or inequity which drives a character • Motivation is the force that drives a character in a particular direction. In order for the problem in a story to be fully explored, all motivations pertaining to that topic must be expressed. This is accomplished by assigning characteristic elements that represent these motivations to the various objective characters. In this way, different characters represent different motivations and the story problem is fully explored. In creating Objective Characters for a given story, 16 of the 64 elements will be selected as the Motivation elements of that character set.