Selecting the Domains in your story

One of the easiest ways to identify the four Domains in your story (Objective Story, Subjective Story, Main Character, and Obstacle Character) is by looking at the characters that appear in each Domain. Who are they? What are they doing? What are their relationships to one another? Clearly identifying the characters in each throughline will make selecting the thematic Domains, Concerns, Ranges, and Problems for the throughlines much easier.

For the Objective Story Throughline:

When looking at the characters in the Objective Story Throughline, identify them by the roles they play instead of their names. This keeps them at a distance, making them a lot easier to evaluate objectively. For instance, some of the characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet might be the king, the queen, the ghost, the prince, the chancellor, and the chancellor's daughter, while the characters in The Fugitive might be the fugitive doctor, the federal marshal, the dead wife, the one-armed man, and so on. By avoiding the characters' proper names you also avoid identifying with them and confusing their personal concerns with their concerns as Objective Characters.

Aren't the Main Character and the Obstacle Character also part of the Objective Story?

The Main Character and the Obstacle Character will each have a role in the Objective Story in addition to their explorations of their own throughlines. From the Objective Story point of view we see all the story's Objective Characters and identify them by the functions they fulfill in the quest to reach the Objective Story Concern. The Objective Story throughline is what brings all of the characters in the story together and describes what they do in relation to one another in order to achieve this Concern.

It is extremely important to be able to separate the Main Character throughline from the Objective Story throughline in order to see your story's structure accurately. It is equally important to make the distinction between the Obstacle Character and the Objective Story. Exploring these two characters' throughlines in a story requires a complete shift in the audience's perspective, away from the overall story that involves all the characters and into the subjective experiences that only these two characters have within the story. Thus, each of these throughlines should be considered individually.

The Main Character and the Obstacle Character will, however, each have at least one function to perform in the Objective Story as well. When we see them here, though, they both appear as Objective Characters. In the Objective Story all we see are the characteristics they represent in relation to the other Objective Characters.

So if your Main Character happens to be the Protagonist as well, then it is purely as the Protagonist that we will see him in the Objective Story. If your Obstacle Character is also an Archetypal Guardian, then his helping and conscience are all you should consider about that character in the Objective Story.

In every story, these two will at least be called upon in the Objective Story to represent the story's Crucial Element and its dynamic opposite. It is possible that the Main and Obstacle Characters could have no other relationship with the Objective Story than these single characteristics. The point is that their importance to the Objective Story should be thought of completely in terms of these and any other Objective characteristics which are assigned.

For the Subjective Story Throughline:

When looking at the characters in the Subjective Story Throughline, it is best to look at the Main and Obstacle Characters by their relationship with each other in lieu of their names. The Subjective Story Throughline is the "We" perspective, (i.e. first-person plural) so think entirely in terms of the relationship between the Main and Obstacle Characters, not the characters themselves. Thus, "the relationship between Dr. Richard Kimble and Sam Gerard" is the focus of the Subjective Story Throughline in The Fugitive, whereas The Verdict focuses on "the relationship between Frank Galvin and Laura Fischer."

For the Main Character Throughline:

When looking at the Main Character's Throughline, all other characters are unimportant and should not be considered. Only the Main Character's personal identity or essential nature is meaningful from this point of view. What qualities of the Main Character are so much a part of him that they would not change even if he were plopped down in another story? For example, Hamlet's brooding nature and his tendency to over-think things would remain consistent and recognizable if he were to show up in a different story. Laura Wingfield, in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, would carry with her a world of rationalizations and a crippling propensity to dream if we were to see her appear again. These are the kinds of things to pay attention to in looking at the Main Character Throughline.

For the Obstacle Character Throughline:

When considering the Obstacle Character's Throughline, look at their identity in terms of their impact on others, particularly the Main Character. Think of the Obstacle Character in terms of his name, but it's the name of someone else, someone who can really get under your skin. In viewing the Obstacle Character this way, it is easier to identify the kind of impact that he has on others. Obi Wan Kenobi's fanaticism (regarding using the force) in Star Wars and Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard's tenacity (in out-thinking his prey) in The Fugitive are aspects of these Obstacle Characters that are inherent to their nature and would continue to be so in any story they might be found in.

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