Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Choices, Choices

No matter what you do, you cannot avoid making a choice. Even making no choice is a choice. Opting out, while not cool, is a legitimate decision. However, there are points at which it is best to make a decision for or against. Major life choices like marriage should not be entered into by opting out of making a decision. Either you're for it or against it, not following along with the stream of what someone else wants. Just one of those moments when having a strong opinion should be par for the course.

How does this affect your story? Well, say your protagonist is a princess with an arranged marriage hanging over her head. There are two possible choices here: duty or self. If she sides with duty, then this arranged marriage will cause little major stir in her world and she will acquiesce to it without serious complaint. On the other side, there is self or any of the myriad reasons she might say no to such a proposition. Sure, you could go with the not so opinionated option of 'meh' and have her be pushed along by circumstances, but then she fails as a protagonist because as Writing Excuses says, Protagonists protag. To make that a little longer and maybe a mite clearer, protagonists do proactive things. They make choices. They don't opt out because that is rarely the stuff of a good story. When people tell stories, people do things. Doing things requires making choices. See the correlation: person + choices + actions = story. Put a bunch of this together and you might even weave that little thing called a plot into the whole thing.

Back to your princess's upcoming nuptials. Suppose the proposing prince-guy is a douchenozzle. Maybe that will promote a stronger sense of whether or not our princess needs to take a stand for or against this marriage. Now we're dealing with more than one person and more than one set of choices and actions, but the formula still stands. Person plus choices plus actions = story. So what choices does the prince-guy make? Maybe he's a douche with a heart of gold. (Not quite sure how that would work but go with me here.) All he needs is the proper love and affection to bring out the best in him. Thus our princess's actions have every chance of influencing the decisions the prince-guy makes regarding how to go about this.

As you can see, the simple way of looking at things sometimes is all you need. If you want to tell a story, you start with someone making a decision to do something or not to do something or to do nothing at all. All choices. All options. All well and good. Just make sure if you're going to have a protag, they do protaggy things. Same thing for your antag. They need to do antaggy things like get in the way and have differing viewpoints. But I suppose that's a discussion for another day. Ciao!

No comments: