Character Hero Opponent Ally Fake-Ally Opponent

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  • Hero

  • Opponent

  • Ally

  • Fake-Ally Opponent

  • Fake-Opponent Ally

  • Subplot Character [usually not the ally]

  • Character Web by Story Function & Archetype – Create your character web. Start by listing all of your characters, and describe what function they play in the story (for example, hero, main opponent, ally, fake-ally opponent, subplot character). Write down next to each character the archetype, if any, that applies.

  • Central Moral Problem – List the central moral problem of the story.

  • Comparing the Characters – List and compare the following structure elements for all your characters:

  1. Weaknesses

  2. Need, both psychological and moral

  3. Desire

  4. Values

  5. Power, status, and ability

  6. How each faces the central moral problem

Begin the comparison between your hero and main opponent.

  • Variation of the Moral Problem – Make sure each character takes a different approach to the hero’s central moral problem.
  • Requirements of a Hero – Now concentrate on fleshing out your hero. Begin by making sure you have incorporated the four requirements of any great hero:

  1. Make your lead character constantly fascinating.

  2. Make the audience identify with the character, but not too much.

  3. Make the audience empathize with your hero, not sympathize.

  4. Give your hero a moral as well as a psychological need.

  • Hero’s Character Change – Determine your hero’s character change. Write down the self-revelation first, and then go back to the need. Make sure the self-revelation actually solves the need. In other words, whatever lies or crutches the hero is living with in the beginning must be faced at the self-revelation and overcome.

  • Changed Beliefs – Write down the beliefs your hero challenges and changes over the course of your story.

  • Hero’s Desire – Clarify your hero’s desire line. Is it a single, specific goal that extends throughout the story? When does the audience know whether the hero has accomplished the goal or not?

  • Opponents – Detail your opponents. First describe how your main opponent and each of your lesser opponents attack the great weakness of your hero in a different way.

  • Opponents’ Values – List a few values for each opponent.

How is each opponent a kind of double for the hero? Give each some level of

power, status, and ability, and describe what similarities each shares with the


State in one line the moral problem of each character and how each character

justifies the actions he takes to reach his goal.

  • Minor Character Variation on the Hero’s Weakness and Moral Problem – In what ways are any of the minor characters variations on the hero’s unique weakness and moral problem?

  • Four-Corner Opposition – Map out the four-corner opposition for your story. Put your hero and main opponent on the top line with at least two secondary opponents underneath. Label each character with his or her archetype, but only if it is appropriate. Many characters are not archetypes. Don’t force it.

Push the four major characters to the corners. That is, make sure each is as different from the other three as possible. The best way to ensure that is to focus on how the values of each differ.
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