Limited characters in a scene or even in the story

by John
(Salt Lake City, Utah)

Question: My question concerns the situation where you have a (main) character off by him or herself for an extended period. Perhaps the character falls into a deep cave, or is lost in the woods. Without the benefit of other beings around to interact with, how do you have the interactions necessary to move the story along? In other words, what serves in the roles normally assigned to the other archetypal characters since they are not present?

This would be compounded if the main character is solo for the majority of the story - such as in the recent film "All is Lost" starring Robert Redford. In this film, the unnamed main character is by himself for the duration of the story, fighting the elements and other things (including himself) to survive. The story still works, yet objects or the ideas they represent are probably filling in for the archetypal roles.

In such a situation would more focus need to be put on these alternate "characters" since they now have to assume these roles? Or can the main character take on the necessary roles as needed - as internal arguments or debates?

Sorry if this is an overly complicated question, but the story I am working on involves a solo explorer pondering her own past as she sifts through the pasts of others.

Answer: Yours is a great question, because you actually answer it yourself!

Dramatica theory assumes that a story is a model of a mind solving a problem. In that model, characters represent various conflicting drives within the storymind.

If your main character is alone, then these drives can be represented not by external characters but by things within the main character's own mind. He could ascribe the drives to different inanimate things in his environment, or he could see other entities in his memory or imagination. In effect, he becomes the storymind and the debates happen within his own divided consciousness.

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