A powerful force arrested him
And pushed him down the alley
Where he heard a clown
I must have been so fooled by the sight
Like a vision made me see a whole other world, behind the wall
It blew my senses
Then, I was lost in my thoughts
Intrigue surrounded me
And I slowly felt my myself submitting to the sounds
Of my heart beating
To the rhythm of another unusual sight
Then, I saw this man standing there, this awkward looking guy
I kept going back to hear his ditty
It was kind of magnetizing me
I could not resist
He was so uncool
Then he showed me how cool he was, just for a moment
I was curious and wanted more.
I am his editor
What happens when a character has two motives? One innocent and the other deceitful? And towards the same person? Or different persons? If a double motive is directed towards one other character, I think this gives the writer a difficulty. Such as, who is this character? The writer will have to explain somehow why their character is ‘double-minded’ or complex or at least make it intriguing or interestingly mysterious.
If, from the same character, an innocent motive is directed towards one other and a deceitful motive is directed towards another, this is easier to write. It may mean that the character loves one and dislikes the other, as simple as that, or was complimented by one and offended by the other and drew a reaction to that.
But the character could only have a motive that is plain and simple evil, whose behavior depends on the situation, is outwardly innocent towards one, and aggressive towards another, but both times wants to hurt the others. Enough of evil. What of good motives? Yes, we need those; integrity.
Setting is very much important to what happens within the above parameters. If the setting is an office, the actions of the characters are more subtle rather than overt, for example. If the setting were a desert, a jungle, a village, and so on, all have different expectations. But if the story is a fantasy, more other worldly things are accepted.
There’s this little song by Bruce Springsteen that has a big theme. “Ain’t Got You” is from his Tunnel of Love album that was released in 1987. The album came after the blockbuster album of his, Born in the USA. Tunnel of Love had significantly less fanfare, but coming after Born in the USA, I thought I better have a listen, back in the day. The opening track “Ain’t Got You” is about having almost everything the world could give someone, riches, fame, adulation, success, but still feeling like you’re missing something. I suppose that is a common theme in song and literature, but it can be true to life itself, as there may be times when one feel something’s missing in my life…I ain’t got you. It may not be a girl or whoever, it may be anything, something, or something one feels one needs but cannot define what that may be.
In storytelling class, the lecturer may discuss the concept of compelling choice. For these lecturers, compelling choice is the pivot on which the plot turns in the classical story structure. The main character faces dilemmas at various points and has a choice between two or, even better, more choices of action, but the character chooses one way because the choice compels more than the other possibilities. Real life is faced with such challenges as well at all sorts of levels. I wish that in real life we would always make the best choices, but in stories a character is a character with its own personality, beliefs and ways of doing things. It’s just that some choices compel the protagonist more than others. This is good material for the writer. The character can make authentic choices because one choice was more compelling that the other possibilities. In real life this can be as difficult as choosing the most unselfish course of action.
One idea can produce two ideas, but they both take a different slant, that’s the difference. For example, take this premise, as comedy for a Hollywood blockbuster that would get one star from the critics, depending on how well it was done, yet with the potential to be a bomb. A man spent ten years of his life around a lot of people and got so sick of them that he decided to isolate himself from people because he enjoyed the other half of his personality better and settles down with him, but his friend tries to get him back into socializing with people and to see the good side of humanity. In the end, he comes around to see the good side. That’s a silly comedy. But I can change the ending and the whole tone of the idea to sound like an arty drama. In the end the person stays away from people for the rest of his life and there is no seeing the good side. That’s a German drama. I would write neither.