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Friday, February 10, 2012
World Builders' Encyclopedia: Pro-Protagonist, Anti-Protagonist and Outlining Your World
Disclaimer: The Composers’ Laboratory wishes to remind its audience that these tips, tools, and miniature essays are all advisory. These methods are NOT a book of laws or gospels and are not set in stone. Composers’ Laboratory aims to share the personal advice widely use among other, various authors. Composers’ Laboratory encourages its viewers to use the methods best suited to their writing style.
When world building, a writers’ initial focus should begin with central character and developing a setting from the main characters’ eyes. Other characters, like supporting and antagonists, are not necessarily needed during this initial start point. This also means that creating a well-developed main character is also unnecessarily during this initial start phase. So put away your well detailed character sheets and consider your world for a moment. Character sheets can change and will change over periods of time. Importance should be weighed by where your protagonist is in their respective world.
Step #1 of World Building
Decide to build a fictional world. By reading this far, you, the writer, have already made a commitment to building a functioning setting for your character, not matter how grand or minuscule it is. Congratulations on the completion of step one.
Step #2 Choose your Protagonist
When focusing on building a world for your protagonist, your initial focus should be only the protagonist. The protagonist is the supporting beam which your fictional world supports itself on. The antagonist and supporting characters don’t matter at this point in time. This support beam doesn’t need a fancy or elegantly structured. Consider three concepts when constructing the theme of your world.
Does your protagonist begin happily?
Does your protagonist’s story end?
Does your protagonist’s story end happily?
Step #3 Pro and Anti Protagonist
The term Anti-Protagonist doesn’t refer to the antagonist, so keep in mind this is world building and not character building. The Pro and Anti Protagonist are possibility tools incorporating the six basic conflicts in a conflict narrative.
pos·si·bil·i·ty tool /ˌpäsəˈbilətē to͞ol/
A possibility tool is a writer’s mental prompt. It narrows and limits ideals, eliminating other possibilities that contradict the chosen idea. This allows the writer’s imagination a clear and precise theme to build upon. Composers’ Laboratory
Example: Frank Herbert’s Dune incorporates a planet comprised entirely out of a desert-like terrain. This restricts the possibility of having visible bodies of water if the planet is completely comprise of sand.
Since the protagonist of Dune uses this planet as a means of overcoming obstacles, this world can be considered pro-protagonist.
Writers’ take note:
Presenting a theme that ends happily is much harder than those that end in despair. To ensure that such progression keeps its momentum, consider building the protagonist’s world the sword concept. If the thought of a happy ending does not appeal to you, consider the shield concept instead.