Thoughts on the Antagonist vs. the Protagonist

in Entertaining nonsense and profound thought

I’ve become a little obsessive about the movie Decoy Bride. (Horrible Title. Come ON, people.) What I’m learning in the graduate course I’m taking is that every scene in every story you write is all about the conflict between the antagonist and the protagonist. It’s a dance of cause and effect back and forth between the two.

But here we have this story that I’m obsessed with, that I really love, and the give and take is all messed up. There’s conflict, but it’s not between the antagonist and the protagonist. This story is about Katie. Granted the prologue is about Lara and James wanting to get married, and the paparazzi who keeps crashing the party causing them to find a really remote place to get married. But then we switch to Katie. There is no antagonist pushing back against Katie. Just fate really.

Wait let’s think about this. In the beginning she’s gone Man Vegan, having been dumped by her latest boyfriend. So if that’s her want – to be man free, then the paparazzi meddling in Lara and James plans causes Katie to become involved – and she discovers she likes James. So maybe Lara’s antagonist is also Katie’s antagonist – even though what Lara wants is to get married and what Katie wants is to be free of men. It all changes by the end, of course.

It’s a lovely sweet story, Julie if you’re reading this, I think you’d like it. Very little conflict.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

londonmabel February 25, 2013 at 4:19 am

I thought there just needed to be any antagonist in each scene. Like, it could be the friend challenging her thinking, or whatever. Like in Bridesmaids when Melissa McCarthy comes over and yells at her. Or the cop ignoring her when she needs his help. –> In theory this must include internal antagonist as well.

Of course, there are different schools of thought on all these things. One thing I like about the Writing Excuses podcast is that there’s 4 writers discussing the topic at hand. If they don’t get consensus they don’t argue, they just move on.

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Sue Schlabach February 22, 2013 at 8:27 am

Interesting antagonist/protagonist conflict. Will need to think how that is at play in the things I’m reading/seeing. Happy Friday to you!!

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Julie February 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

I am reading. Yay, no conflict!

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Judy, Judy, Judy February 22, 2013 at 4:44 am

This is why I’m not taking those kind of classes for awhile. Cause they confuse and paralyze me. Just a me glitch.
I’m glad they’re working for you, though. Bree is awesome and she deserves your awesome writerness.

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