by Armando Saldaña Mora
In April 28, 1998 I send Chris Huntley this little tale:
> Left to her own devices, a Main Character will not willingly change
Yes! YES! THAT'S THE ANSWER! AND that's my point! Allow me to illustrate with a little wholesome story (please check the footnote before reading further):
EXT: A BRIDGE OVER A RIVER NEAR HOLLYWOOD (?) - NIGHT.
CHRIS HUNTLEY approaches the bridge. He seems tired and depressed. He stops at the middle of the bridge an bitterly looks at the water. He says to himself:
CHRIS: All the troubles at SSI... Sometimes I wish I'd never existed.
Suddenly, SYD FIELDS appears right besides him.
SYD: Hello, Chris.
CHRIS: Eh.... Syd Fields?
SYD: No, I'm your Guardian Angel. I just took an image you could identify easily.
CHRIS: Of all the people I can identify you chose Syd Fields?
SYD: Whatever. I've come to show you how would the world be if you've never existed.
Syd pulls a small "watchman" TV out of his pocket.
CHRIS: What is this?
SYD: Low budget, this is a re-make, remember? Turn it on.
Chris turns on the TV. An commercial appears on the screen. It shows an erupting volcano and captions in super that say the following:
"HOW CAN I KNOW IF MY EX-HUSBAND IS AN ANTAGONIST OR A CONTAGONIST? (PAGE114)"
"WHAT SHOULD BE MY LIFE'S GOAL AND MY LIFE'S PREREQUISITES? (PAGE 11)"
"HOW CAN I DEFEAT MY CRITICAL FAULTS? (PAGE 67)"
The captions fade and a out of the volcano comes a book, it says on it's cover:
"DRAMANETICS. BY MELANIE A. PHILIPS"
VOICE ON TV: Dramanetics. By Melanie A. Philips. Pick-up a copy today!
CHRIS: (Terrorized) What's this? Dramatica is a cult! And a crappy one,for that matter! My worst nightmares are true!
SYD: It gets worst, look.
Syd changes the channel. CNN appears. The image is some kind of semi-military compound on Texas. FBI men surround it. There's smoke coming out of some windows and shots fired everywhere. An reporter broadcasts:
REPORTER (on TV): As the fifth day of the "Dramatica-siege" approaches,the self-called "Dramatica-Discussion-List Army" gives no signs of surrendering. These E-mail-Subscribers turned Cult- Fanatics keep saying that they -quotes: "...will die before accepting another Copy Protected Software..." end quotes.
On the screen, we see a heavily armed "guerrillero" coming out of the compound, he lifts his rifle and yells defiantly in Spanish:
GUERRILLERO: Tortilla! Fajita! Salsa! Burrito Supreme!
Captions in super translates: "LET'S KILL EVERYONE!"
He falls to the ground. Wounded by the FBI.
CHRIS: Who's that?
SYD: Well, that's Armando. Melanie's theories turned him into a guerrillero instead of a writer.
CHRIS: That's so sad!
SYD: Not that much. You should've seen his writings.
CHRIS: But I don't get it. Melanie is so smart. Why everything turned so bad?
SYD: Ah, you said you wished you'd never existed. Without you, the "Dramatica Creation Story" had no Obstacle Character; and you know that:"left to her own devices, a Main Character (Melanie) will not willingly change."
CHRIS: Where's Melanie? I want to see her!
SYD: I cannot show you that. I can only show you the OC and SS throughlines.
CHRIS: What do you mean OC and SS throughline? You said there was no Obstacle Character in this story.
SYD: That's right. When you have no Obstacle Character, The OC and SS throughlines show you all the pitfalls and potholes that the Main Character could have avoided if she have had an Obstacle Character.
Syd changes channels to weird, alternate versions of "Star Wars" and"Silence of the Lambs" in the first, Luke is using the computer on his ship and misses by a mile the core of the Death Star; in the second, Clarice Starling is being degraded to a desk job on the F.B.I.
SYD: If you remove the OCs, Luke Skywalker would be a lousy pilot and Clarice Starling would never have found Buffalo Bill. But the OC and SS throughlines show the public how those two Main Characters could have succeed.
CHRIS: But what happens in stories where a MC succeeds IN SPITE of the Obstacle Character?
SYD: It doesn't matter. A Main Character cannot arrive to a destination designated by a storyform if she doesn't have an Obstacle Character. Thisis gonna sound too "Butterfly Effect" but, what are the chances of Dr.Kimble wining the fistfight with Dr. Nichols if it wasn't for Sam Gerard?Kimble would still be a pussy physician unable of hurting a fly.
CHRIS: You're not talking about mere storyweaving, aren't you?
SYD: No, I'm talking about an Obstacle Character that is encoded as aVOID. His paths and impacts are there in the storyform, but since there's no one to take them to effect, the OC is encoded as a void.
CHRIS: So, when the Obstacle Character is completely, absolutely, definitively absent...
SYD: You use the OC throughlines to SHOW THE OTHER WAY. The one that theMC is NOT taking; and you make clear to the public that THAT WAY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN in order to arrive at the story's final destination.
CHRIS: And if, suddenly, in the middle of the story that completely, absolutely, definitively absent Obstacle Character appears?
SYD: You should have prepared his entrance. His impact should be so great that in a very short time he makes the MC turn and take all the roads she didn't took.
CHRIS: And how do you "show the other roads"? How do you prepare an OC entrance so he can make-up for his absent time?
SYD: That depends on the writers creativity. For example, when Melanie decided to proclaim herself High Priestess of the One and Only Dramatica Cult she said...
Syd pulls out an screenplay, searches the page and reads from it.
SYD (reading): "...She comes out to the balcony. Opens her arms to salute the cheering crowds, and with a single movement makes them silent to say:'I shall now proclaim myself High Priestess of the One and Only Dramatica Cult because I still haven't met anyone who have had a nightmare about cults and stuff'..."
CHRIS: Uh... "because I still haven't met anyone who have had a nightmare about cults and stuff"?
SYD: Did I told you our dialogist sucks?
CHRIS: Well... I suppose is time to say "I wanna live! I love my life" and all that, isn't it?
CHRIS: One question, though.
CHRIS: Didn't you went a long way out of the road just to prove a point?
SYD: Eh... I kind of always do.
*** Chris: My own critical fault is that I can never restrain myself of making a joke, believe me is in my blood and I've had time and again troubles for doing so. The above story deals with some sensitive issues(about the Dramatica cult stuff) that maybe are too sensitive for you to betaken lightly. Please, as you read, try to forgive me if I'm touching nerves to close to you. The second problem this satirical way of mine carries is that all I'm saying seems like a silly joke. In the story I try to illustrate what -I think- happens to a story the second you pull off the Obstacle Character. I call that "Encoding the Obstacle Character as a void". Thanks for your patience.
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