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Characters, Narrative & Mind

By Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator of StoryWeaver

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More About the Contagonist

The following excerpt is taken from an online class I hosted on the Dramatica Theory of Story.  It is rather meandering, though full of interesting tidbits.  If you feel it bogging you down, just skip it for now move on to the next article:

Dramatica Class Transcript – The Contagonist

William S1 : Could you touch on Contagonist?…

Dramatica : Sure, William! First of all, Dramatica sees 8 archetypal characters. But, Dramatica also sees Millions of non-archetypal characters. It all depends upon how the character elements are combined. The elements fall into “families”, by their natures. Some are Motivations, some are Methodologies, some are the character’s Purposes. Others are their Means of Evaluation. There is an internal and external trait, in each of these four categories, and there are sixty-four elements all together.

That means that there is one special arrangement in which eight characters each get eight traits. And when all eight traits are from the same “family” it forms an archetypal character.

These characters are defined by the elements they contain. Guardian has Conscience, and Help among others. Contagonist has the dynamically opposed elements of Temptation, and Hinder. Reason has Control, and Logic. Emotion has Uncontrolled and feeling.

William S1 : What is the difference between the dramatic purpose of Antagonist and Contagonist?

Dramatica : As you indicate, the Contagonist is not the Antagonist. In terms of difference, the Antagonist is made up of Avoid (or prevent) and Re-consider. This is dynamic to the Protagonist who is Pursue, and Consider. In other words, the Antagonist is out there to stop the Protagonist, but the Contagonist is just trying to push the Protagonist off the path, Look at conscience and temptation fighting it out. That is the job of Obi Wan and Darth [in the original Star Wars].

William S1 : Can the Contagonist be thought of as the Antagonist’s ally?

Dramatica : Actually, William, it is only a storytelling convention that often the Contagonist is the Antagonist’s ally. But they might also be attached to the Protagonist as well. You see, when we are looking at archetypal characters, we are not seeing them by their relationship to the Protagonist, but by their function in the story at large. The Contagonist Tempts and Hinders. They will do it to everyone everywhere, not only to the Protagonist.