|Stories - Part Five: Relationships and Communication
When actors take on a role, their first concern is to bring the 'character' to life. That is, to get 'into the skin' of the character so that he or she will reflect the emotions of the situation. The actors are better able to do this if the writer describes it is detail. This requires the writer observing how different people react in situations.
Stories can sometimes be thought of as 'games' in which two sides of good and bad play. Everything that is 'good' advances the objectives of the characters, and 'bad' preventing those objectives being gained. It is the literal form of Snakes and Ladders with the isolation of the good and bad events. Also, as with games, you expect the characters to play according to the rules. It would be cheating the viewer is Winnie-the-Pooh solved a problem by having a brilliant idea, just as it would be if Sherlock Holmes came up with an obvious idea that anyone could have. The implicit rules of a story dictate the way it unfolds. If a story is contrived to achieve its ends the viewer is unsatisfied just as much as if someone wins a game by cheating.
A study of games offers some ideas on the sort of obstacles used to stop opponents winning:
Football. Both sides have a team, and the team members collaborate in attacking and defending each other's territory. It is easy to see at any point which team has the advantage. This is rather like war where an attack is made but is then repelled. This continues until one side wins.
Tennis. Individuals fight against each other, but not on the
other's territory. It is the ball that invades the territory. The individual
has to both defend and attack at the same time. The ball has to get through
the defence many times to win.
Snooker. Both have the same territory. Here, the game is to score more points while at the same time stop the opponent from scoring at all. By taking each ball off the table, the opponent is deprived from using it for scoring. This is more like destroying the enemy's resources rather than destroying the enemy. By cutting off food, oil, transport, etc, the enemy cannot function.
Cinderella might be considered as a resource for the ugly sisters. She does their cooking, cleaning, and enables them to function in their world without the disadvantages of having to work. By leaving them, the ugly sisters are no longer able to function, and so no longer a threat to her. Most of the James Bond stories end up with him destroying the resources of his opponent.
Chess. This is out-thinking the opponent by a combination of taking the pieces, and blocking moves. Though each side starts with personal territory, this soon becomes joint territory. This is more like spying, where the objective is to work out what the other side is going to do before they do it.
Sherlock Holmes looks for behaviour patterns by the criminals he follows, and from that, anticipates their next move.
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