Impact character and other questions.

by Roger

Hello there! I'm here for another question (or questions), if you don't mind.

In the middle of my story, the protagonist (the one in pursue of the story goal), will find out that he has to sacrifice his life in order to achieve the story goal. But he keeps this a secret from everyone. Now the main character (a girl), who has the ability to read minds, once made a promise to the protagonist to not read his mind ever, because he doesn't want her to read his mind. Although there's no way the guy would know if the girl is reading his mind, the girl still keeps this promise, partly because she's kind of naive, but mostly because she likes him. So, at the climax, although they are close to achieving the story goal, the main character feels something is wrong. She thinks that the protagonist has been so secretive to her despite the fact that they're very close friends. She knows he's hiding something, but she can't read his thoughts because of that promise. So, her inner conflict is, will she read the guy's thoughts and break her promise, or not.

In the end, she reads his thoughts, knows about the protagonist's plan of giving his own life, and sacrifices herself instead of the protagonist in order to achieve the story goal.

Now, my questions are these.
1. I've read on your site that the impact character gives the MC an alternative solution to his/her inner conflict. But in my MC's case, she already has options to solve her inner conflict, without an IC telling her an alternative solution. Do I still have to create an impact character? Or is it possible that the IC is the protagonist himself? (since it was him with whom the girl has made a promise, and he trusts her to keep that promise), or could the IC be the girl's conscience, telling her that if she reads the guy's thoughts, she would break her promise.

2. How would you describe the ending? The story goal is achieved, but it's not the protagonist that did it, it was the MC. Is it a comi-tragedy or a tragi-comedy?

Sorry for writing such a long question. I hope you could help me on this one (again). Thank you very much!

P.S. I'm writing a story for a comic book. :)

Answer: Regarding your first question... What you have to consider is who the main character is when the story begins.

For instance, does she start out as someone who uses her talent to eavesdrop on other people's thoughts despite the invasion of privacy being viewed as immoral? In that case, your protagonist could serve as impact character, pressuring her not to use her talent. She would then be a steadfast character who, at the climax, chooses to disregard his advice and stick with her own approach.

On the other hand, if she starts out as someone determined not to invade his privacy, then you might need another character who can serve as impact character. This other IC would offer an example of why it is better to read other people's thoughts or delve into their personal information. He/she could gradually undermine her resolve, perhaps by pointing out that the protagonist may be hiding something important. Your main character would then be a change character who chooses to follow this person's advice at the climax.

Regarding your second question...

There should only be one right choice that will lead to achieving the story goal, and you should make that clear to the reader. If it doesn't matter who dies, then the main character's decision is less meaningful in terms of the overall story (though it may be personally meaningful to these two characters).

In other words, if the protagonist's sacrifice would have resulted in failure while only the MC's death would lead to success, then the MC's decision to read his mind would be the right choice. She would be the one saving the day and he would be wrong for hiding his intent.

If her death can also be seen as a good resolution of her inner conflict, then you'd have a happy ending. If her death feels like a bad resolution, for her then you would have a comi-tragedy.

The same two options are true if either person's death would lead to success, but you would have less emotional impact as the protagonist would not be left in a situation where he realizes his error and the great deed she did for the world.

On the other hand, if the goal can only be achieved if the protagonist dies, then the MC's decision to take his place would result in an outcome of failure and you would have either a tragedy or a tragi-comedy. By disregarding his advice and interfering in his plan, she would ruin things.

However, I doubt you are writing a tragic ending, unless you are making her a rather evil person, in which case why would she lay down her life for another?

Hope that helps.

Comments for Impact character and other questions.

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Aug 01, 2014
Thank you very much for the detailed answers!
by: Anonymous

Regarding your answer to the 1st question, in the beginning of the story I planned the main character to be someone who reads other people's minds without thinking about privacy or anything. She has the habit of asking people questions, and comparing what they say to what they really think. Most of the time those two don't coincide, and so she had developed a mistrust to people. Then, she met the protagonists, who is a very frank person (mainly the reason why she's attracted to him) but still hides his personal problems. Then he ask her not to invade on his personal thoughts and tells her that what she's doing is bad. But I wanted the protagonist to learn a lesson that he doesn't need to hide his worries and should open up to his friends, and so I made the main character read his mind in the end.

As for the second question though, that's really something I haven't thought about. Now that I think about it, whether the guy or the girl dies doesn't really make a difference to the overall story, though it does make a difference to both characters. And I thank you for making me think of that.

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