Monday, August 3, 2009

Identity Crisis

No, I'm not having an identity crisis. I'm still the same snarky person I was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, and the day . . . Well, I am what I am, and it's not Popeye the Sailor Man.

My question: what happens when the protagonist is also the antagonist? Yes, it happens. In fact, I'm mired knee deep in that dilemma. You see, I don't have a stalwart villain with greased backed hair and beady little rat eyes. No, the face of my villain is . . . the face of my protagonist.

WTH??? Well, you see, the struggles of my main character are firmly internal. There's not an outside (well, technically there is, but not really) force throwing obstacles in my hero's way so he has trouble reaching his happily ever after. There is, basically, only my snarky margarita drinking hero who is struggling with his ideals of right/wrong, good/bad, red shirt/blue shirt, sandals or sneakers, and all the other crap of life.

Yes, life happens around my character, and his friends as well, as they struggle with making the right decision and hoping the repercussions don't totally destroy their lives, or the lives of those they love.

So, how do you, dear readers, fellow bloggers, and aspiring writers, deal with the issue of your protagonist being the antagonist as well? Is it easy? Hard? Does your brain hurt just thinking about it? Well, mine does. I mean, every other project I've worked on there is a clear protagonist and antagonist. It is only this one gem of brilliance where the protag and antag are one and the same. Go figure!!!

On a different note - Tasmyn is currently on pills to help her extremely hyperactive thyroid. In a nutshell, thyroid levels for cats should be between 0.8 and 4.0. A hyperactive thyroid is normally 3.8. Now, Tasmyn is far from normal. She is my cat after all. Her thyroid reading was . . . 21.1. Yes, 21.1. Silly cat! So, she's on pills for now, surgery is also an option, but will be the last resort. She's an old girl. She's also not happy with me forcing pills down her throat twice a day. Oh, the joys, the joys, of giving cats pills. I could write a novel about it. Hmmmm . . .



Marybeth Poppins said...

Can't say that I've dealt with that before. Sorry.

Suzette Saxton said...

I find your protag/antag idea fascinating and believe if you can figure out how to pull it off, you'll have a brilliant ms.

And poor kitty - give her a pat from me.

Good luck in your writing,


ElanaJ said...

I think having the "split personality" is really difficult. Because it's so human. I mean, we all battle with ourselves every single day with right/wrong, good/bad, do I eat that or not? Right?

That's what's hard about it. I wish I had an answer to make it easier, but sadly I do not.

PS. I totally hope you beat me this week in Bejeweled Blitz!

Scott said...

I think the difficulty comes in the phrase "we are our own worst enemies". I think our internal struggle often defines us as individuals. We fight against ourselves more often then we fight against others. Do I do 'this' to be cool? Do I not do 'this' and end up outside the group rather than inside the group? What price am I willing to pay for happiness? Am I in this relationship because it is right for me, or because I'm afraid of being alone?

Those are some of the struggles my characters face. I delve into their feelings and insecurities, the reasons they wore the blue shirt, so to speak, instead of the red shirt. I have my characters confront their inner demons and explore the reasons they did, might do, the things they have done/might do to achieve their definition of happily ever after.

Life is not always an easy road to travel, and I think that's what this project is all about. It's a journey of self discovery where the ideals we (the characters) once held are closely examined and, sometimes, totally discarded.

It's a tricky battle, but one that seems to work for this project. Maybe it's easier to write a story with a defined antagonist, rather than a story where the protagonist and antagonist are one and the same. Then again, when have I ever taken the easy way out in this life???


Tess said...

that's a tough question. I'm sure you'll find a way to pull it off and it will be maaaaahhhvelous!

btw, sorry about missing the give away. don't worry, I have some other fun things tucked away in my brain for the future ;)

Michelle McLean said...

I haven't ever tried what you are doing but LOVE the idea! What a great twist :D And just have to laugh at the pill gagging cat (well, not at the reason for the pills, but I can just picture you trying to administer them and well...too funny) :D

Lady Glamis said...

Scott, I've seen this aspect before in many novels, but rarely does it work with ONLY your protagonist serving as your antagonist. This makes for a very internal, psychological dilemma that I'm not sure is a place you're wanting to go? I'm really happy to read that you do have some outside forces working against your character.

I guess my main question is what MAIN set of rules is your protagonist following? Is it a set of rules set up by himself? By the community he's living in? His society? Sometimes your true antagonist isn't a person at all, but an idea or a construction governing over the protagonist, and that's why the protagonist is struggling inwardly - because of these rules that have made him who he is, and he's fighting against it.

I don't know if this answering any of your questions, but it's the beginning thoughts I have on the subject. This is a great post topic! It might be something I cover later on. Thanks for sharing!

Scott said...

Michelle - cream cheese!! I now put the pill in cream cheese and my cat gobbles it down. It sure beats those wrestling moves I was trying! : )

Lady Glamis - thanks for your comments. They always seem to help me put things in perspective. Yes, there are outside forces as well as the characters own inner demons of trying to do what's right without hurting multiple individuals with his final decision. There's just not an easily identifiable antagonist a la Professor Snape or Sauron. : ) Still, sometimes, it is a person (i.e., character's) inner struggle that is the greatest antagonist of all.

Lastly - I admit, I'm a closet outliner!!


Lady Glamis said...

I agree that the inner struggle can be huge... but you might want to ask yourself how that inner struggle started??? That might point to a bigger problem you're not seeing?

Scott said...

Lady Glamis - there is an outside, so to speak, antagonist that creates the internal struggle. For the most part, it is the decision making process, the consequences, and life after that propel the character/story forward. I don't think internal struggles begin on their own, there is normally an outside influence that begins the process.

Thanks so much for your insight. I can always count on you, and other followers, to provided the needed perspective to relook at a situation with clearer eyes. : )