Screenwriters have debated on the delicate relationship between plot and character experience, driven stories. That relationship is also about writers’ self-discovery. Gustav Jung called the process individuation. This according to in Scot Meyers’ Go Into the Story (GIT) is the protagonist’s journey from an initial state of disunity to unity. Separated from his or her true nature or self he or she becomes a model of our collective cultural experience towards self-discovery.
This model hero or heroine through a process or journey to discover that true self, encounters other characters. These include Nemesis(Antagonist), Emotional or Attractor character, Mentor or the mental influence on the protagonist. The Trickster, the shape-shifter, who engages in supporting, luring and tricking to delay hero from reaching individuation.
The heroes or heroine brings on disunity, backstories, bitterness or reasons; a sense of imbalance or inequity moving towards equity or balance. The journey uncovers needs, to evaluate their old ways of being, when an inner situation (Inner Conflict) becomes obvious and outer situation (conflict) indicates the call of fate to do something.
The inner conflict journey corrects an inner imbalance in a naturally generated growth. Therefore audiences encounter a complex character development, which forms emotional connection. We eventually identify with or care about a hero or heroine experiencing series of challenges. These challenges which shape the protagonist or hero/heroine are primarily presented by the Nemesis, antagonist or villain.
So where does the GREAT STORY actually begin? Some use the theme or central idea as a starting point. It can also have the heroic character’s individuation search as the starting point. To that extent the writer, the implied hero or heroine, who shows eagerness to self-confirm his or her true self needs to experience PROBLEM!
P.R.O.B.L.E.M, presents a tool for shaping the hero or heroine to explore a viable story idea as follows.
P – Punishing: Heroes or heroines encounter difficulties from other characters as they embark on that individuation journey
R- Relatable: Audience relates with those difficulties
O- Original: Hero or heroine may be an unusual one or the imbalance demands a fresh approach, probably not experienced by the audience.
B- Believable: Heroic character has familiar human desires, emotions and backstories with some emotional depths.
L- Life-Altering: Heroic character encounters issues and other characters, who impact negatively or positively as he or she take risks or stake claim to true self.
E- Entertaining: Audience connect and enjoy the hero or heroine’s actions, personality, dialogue and thoughts.
M- Meaningful: Hero or heroine has an inner conflict that impacts on his or her outer physical struggle. https://www.flyingwrestler.com/2019/08/shaping-your-main-character/
Recall that the writer is the ‘protagonist,’ committed to making a statement. That means the protagonist is the writer’s voice. Accordingly the writer’s or hero’s experience is an existential task to become who he or she is really. So audience enjoyment of a story becomes an engagement with writer’s conscious storytelling statements through story characters.
Screenplay story structure is therefore expression of cultural conventions, expectations and archetypes not rules for that matter. The External Conflict, mainly the realm of the physical journey counterbalances the Internal Conflict, made up of dialogue, subtext and tension, creating the emotional journey. This is the writer’s much desired liberation or expression as much as it is the hero, heroine, main character or protagonist’s journey through Carl Jung’s individuation.