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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
9:00 PM | Posted by Marnee Bailey | | Edit Post
I started an online course this week. It's the Deep Story course (This link is to the class in Oct but I think it's being offered other places this summer too) being conducted by Carol Hughes. First of all, I've never taken an online course and I admit I was skeptical. I love the classroom. I love going to school, I love teaching at school, and I love the face to face interplay of traditional education. I wasn't sure I was going to like learning in this new, modern way.
But the information Ms. Hughes has already given us has been worth the money I paid. In short, this class rocks. If you get a chance, take it this year some time.
Anyway, I couldn't even begin to tell you all the stuff that's included in just the first lesson, but one epiphany I had as a result of her course has to do with the role of the protagonist.
For years I've wondered about the seeming paradox of having two protagonists in romance. In most romance novels, the hero and the heroine get equal face time. They each have their conflicts, external and internal. They are both invested in the overall story.
But there are two!! That does NOT fit in with the story structure I learned in school. It doesn't fit with the way I taught story structure.
In short, it didn't make sense.
Therefore, I've spent a couple years just wading around in the bogs, trying to find my way, hoping I just luck out and get it right. I might as well get out my metal detector and roam around in a busy parking lot. Maybe I'll find a coin or someone's lost piece of jewelry but the payoffs are small and few and far between.
Until yesterday and Carol Hughes' class.
In her material, she explained the role of the Contagonist.
I believe the term comes from Dramatica.com.
The idea is that the Contagonist is the obstacle character. However, the Contagonist is not the Antagonist. While the Antagonist wants to prevent the Protagonist from accomplishing their goal, the Contagonist wants to divert or delay the Protagonist from their goal, or accomplish the goal in a different way.
To give you some examples. In Harry Potter, Snape is a main Contagonist. In Star Wars, Darth Vader is the Contagonist. In the Matrix, Trinity is the Contagonist.
In romance, the Protagonist and the Contagonist are your hero and heroine.
One thing I found particularly interesting is that the Protagonist doesn't have to be the heroine, something I always felt necessary in romance. But, that's not true and, in fact, my hero is the Protagonist of my story.
So, today I'm going to ask you to think about this idea. Can you think of any other Contagonists in either movies or books? Is your Protagonist your hero or your heroine? What's the goal they're trying to accomplish? And how is the Contagonist complicating that goal?
If you don't feel like playing along—I know, I can hear the whining, "Marnee…. This is your class, not my class"—then have you had any craft epiphanies lately?
Labels: Writing for Rum