Main Character and Thematic and Moral Issue Illustrations

by Faye
(Jackson, Wyoming)


I have two burning questions.

1) My story is about domestic violence; however, it focuses on the wife being the perpetrator. The story is told through (possibly) a series of conversations between the son and his mother. The mother desperately tries to convince her son to leave his wife; however, the son does not believe in divorce and hopes for his wife to change. In the end, it is the mother that puts a stop to the violence, by killing the daughter-in-law. I have been struggling with my Main Character and Impact Character. Since it is the mother that eventually makes the choice to “do something,” is she my Main Character?

The main character generally has two qualities. She is the character whose choice at the climax determines the outcome, and she is the character through whose eyes we see the story.

If the mother is the main character, either the son or the daughter-in-law could be the impact character. For instance, if the mother's habitual approach is to take action, the son might argue that inaction is the better approach in this case. If so, for the mother to refuse to change and take action via murder would make her a steadfast character.

On the other hand, if the daughter-in-law is the impact character who provides the example of using violence to get one's way, and
the mother adopts her approach by choosing violence, that would make the mother a change character.

You have to decide (though my money is on the son).

Either way, while murder may solve the immediate problem, if the mother faces consequences, that would make the story a comi-tragedy (personal failure) or perhaps an outright tragedy if it results in the son losing both wife and mother. (It depends what your chosen story goal is.)

2) I am trying to work out the story using Storyweaver first and then attempting to use Dramatica. However, I am struggling with the Thematic concepts and Moral Issues in Storyweaver. I know the moral issue is the conflict for the mother to just let things be versus taking matters into
her own hands, but I am getting confused on how to provide illustrations on this. Is there anyway you can provide some examples of how this is supposed to be demonstrated or point me in some direction. I have come up with a couple of examples, but I think I am definitely on the wrong track. I just don’t think saying violence is okay if it is for the protection of your child.

Thank you

You'll notice Storyweaver and Dramatica work a little differently, since Dramatica helps you structure a separate thematic argument for each of the four throughlines, whereas Storyweaver doesn't separate these.

One way to translate things would be to make the mother's decision to commit murder reflective of the OS issue. The opposite approach would be the OS counterpoint. You have to look at the various options in Dramatica to see which of the possible issues and counterpoints seem like the closest fit.

In the course of the story, you might have events or situations that show whether the issue seems advantageous or not in the world of your story. Different characters may offer different perspectives on it. (For instance, do people in the story world think violence is justified in certain situation? Are there examples of this?) Ditto for the counterpoint, so that the reader is invited to weigh up which of these two is of greater value. When the main character makes her choice the reader should have some sense whether this is a mistake or not.

A great example is the film The Bounty which is a retelling of Mutiny on the Bounty. In the film, there are instances where Captain Bly's hardnosed, authoritarian approach seems to be wrong, and instances where he seems to be right. There are instances where Christian's laidback approach seems to be right, and instances where it seems to be wrong. For part of the story, the balance of evidence seems to be on Christian's side, but in the end Bly wins more loyalty from his followers. Nonetheless, viewers can have great debates as to who was really in the wrong.

Best of luck.

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