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Story Structure: Mirroring the protagonist and antagonist

Angie here:
Story Structure: Mirroring the protagonist and antagonist high points and low points are important in your plotting, whether you pants it or plot in detail. But mirroring doesn't mean matching. It means opposites. Think reverse image.

When your hero/heroine is at the soaring moment, the happy high, the antagonist must be at the very lowest. Then as the black moment comes for the story hero, the antagonist rises so the reader believes all is lost for the hero and all is won for the antagonist.

Why didn't I say villain? Because in story structure, we learn that an antagonist can be nature, circumstance, another human, or several other combinations... Let's look at the more recent movie The Perfect Storm. Right as three storms collide, our protagonists realize they're fighting for their lives. Nature is the antagonist.

What the author/screenwriter must understand is that the protagonist is always the opposite as the antagonist. Without the opposing push/pull, the story loses steam. Readers cheer as the hero rises only to find the whoosh down a super slide to the lowest low. They cheer as the antagonist appears to lose and gasp when they're wrong. Then again, the final battle becomes exciting when the hero agrees to battle against all odds and claims victory over the antagonist. (Unless, of course, you're writing a tragedy. But even then it's wise to leave the reader with a powerful, life changing message for a sense of satisfaction.)

Here's an exercise: In story structure planning, write your major plot points for both the protagonist and the antagonist on post it notes. Arrange those to mirror one another on a poster or white board. Then add in the lesser plot points doing the same thing. Now connect the plot points. If you have a roller coaster wave between the protagonist points as reader emotions rise and fall AND a mirror image for the antagonist, you have the makings of a page turner. If there's no wave/mirror wave, well, back to work...

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