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Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal? : Conversation question • Page 2 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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Linton Robinson
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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby Linton Robinson » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:13 am

Here are a few books to consider before sheepishiy buying into that Writing 101 stuff.

"Moving On" by Larry McMurtry. Doesn't even really have a plot structure actually, just two kids rambling around. Ditto "On The Road"

Almost anything by Italo Calvino. "Cosmicomics" and "Invisible Cities" as excellent examples that a world-class novel can be way more--and less--than the pinheads say it has to be.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. Main characters die out and new one pops up.

The Tennis Party

What is the "drive" or "problem" of the main character in "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy"? Guy gets caught up in ET events and swept mindless along by more interesting characters who do have agendas.

Who is the protag in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

What's the "immediate goal" in "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"?

In The Big Chill? What motivations drive those people?
Or the characters in Crash?
What character in Babel has a clearcut go tal or agenda?

Try chopping "Slaughterhouse Five" up along these kinds of yardsticks.



You could say that trying to survive or escape pursuit is a Goal (I don't think anybody with any wide reading experience would really say the goal has to be "immediate") but what does that do? The pursuer becomes the generative force and the main charcter an antagonist to the program of trying to kill him.

ONCE AGAIN. Beleive the books you like, the successful books, not the people who try to tell you how to write, And drop that stupid word from your vocabulary before it cripples you.






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updog
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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby updog » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:08 am

Lin, I don't get your hangup over the word protagonist. I'm actually getting "Princess Bride" flashbacks when I read your rants. Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby jaus tail » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:30 pm

I recently saw Interstate 60. The character doesn't have a significant goal, but the side ones do. Characters do need goals to take the story forward. In Kung Fu Panda the protagonist has a mission. Compare that to spy thrillers where the vagueness of a mission is compensated with high-octance car chases, bike stunts and nuclear missiles.

There are different reasons why movies work, in Chicago the musical makes one forget the heroine's effort but to put the music you need a plot. Music is translated as scenery descreptions, and choice of words.

You can write a scene with Karate kicks and Martial Arts but you need a substantial reason to start the fight between the characters. The discussion has broadened my spectrum of the need of a goal and definition of protagonist.
Have a nice day

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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby Linton Robinson » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:40 pm

Updog, it's not so much a hangup of mine, as my suggesting that new writers not get hung up on it.

If you disagree, rather than quoting comedies, perhaps you'd care to state some way in which the use of that term (and associated rules and impulse) help you write.






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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby updog » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:20 pm

As far as I'm concerned, Lin, The Princess Bride should be quoted daily. :|

I don't understand why you're trying to turn something simple into something complicated. I do think about what my protagonist wants. Don't you?
"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby louiseh87 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:58 pm

Louise :)

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Linton Robinson
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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby Linton Robinson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:11 pm

Not really. Do you get up in the morning? Why? What do you want? Is it something that would make a great novel?

The more you write--and the more you think about this stuff--the more obvious it becomes that there just aren't as many "have to's" out there as you get led to believe.

Much less "immediates" Most of this is stuff writing teachers dream up to have something to say.






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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby louiseh87 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:35 pm

Louise :)

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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby updog » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:24 pm

"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



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Re: Should All Protagonists Have An Immediate Goal?

Postby Jowen » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:27 pm

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