In stories there are always protagonists and antagonists. And sometimes it’s the protagonists that are more interesting while others it’s the antagonists that steal the scene. Very rarely, it is both.
In all the wide versatility and range between characters, what is the common feature of interesting, memorable characters that stand out of the rest of the cast, be they protagonists (like Logan or Scarlett o’ Hara) or antagonists (like Jason or Hans Landa)?
In my opinion, it hinges entirely on who calls the shots, and who reacts to them: the one that on the average is who calls the shots and propagates the story is the one that also has the interest. The one who reacts might have the sympathy, but he/she will not be as interesting as the one he/she reacts to.
A great example of that is the comparison between incarnations of the same character in book and movie version- the character of Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings.
In the books, Frodo is an active character. He is the one that starts off making the decisions and propagates the story, such as deciding to exile himself to protect the Shire, or deciding to leave the Fellowship to avoid Boromir, or deciding on what to do with Gollum. He is the one that negotiates, delegates and makes executive decisions even when, towards the climax of the story, the ring is sapping his strength mentally and physically. And of course in the final stage of the story, during the Scouring of the Shire, he is the one that makes a good chunk of the important decisions (such as to have the hobbits revolt, or to spare Saruman’s life).
In the books, Frodo is a fascinating character and his development arc is one of the biggest in the story.
In the movies, however, Frodo is mostly reactive. He does have a token lead role but he really depends on others (including Sam) to make the decisions and propagate the story on many key points. As the stories progress, he becomes baggage for other characters that take on the leading role (especially Samwise) and as a result, he fails to hold the interest of the audience while those that do take the initiative, like Sam does, also get the interest.
I like for both antagonist and protagonist to have an equal ration of action/reaction, so that they both are interesting- and also, if possible, to have both come across as formidable in some manner to the audience.
What do you think? How do your characters fair on the action/reaction scales?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Oct. 14, 2017
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