Monday, May 23, 2011

Plot: Metamorphosis

Happy Monday everyone, today's plot is metamorphosis. This is a character plot and while I studied metamorphosis I learned something I didn't realize before. The metamorph character is the protagonist and the antagonist is his or her prisoner or victim. I assumed the opposite, but then, I haven't really thought about this plot other than enjoying the fairy tales based on it. Think, Beauty and the Beast, The Frog Prince, along with urban fantasy such as Vampires, Wolfmen and others, oh my.

The metamorphosis plot is about change and while we have some type of beast as shown above, the problems and solutions are human, just as with the traditional, in the here and now, plots.

Most of the time the metamorphosis is a beast because of a curse: A witch cursed a prince and he became a beast or frog. A man was bitten and made into a vampire or werewolf. In nearly every case, the protagonist is waiting for the antagonist who may not realize their role in this plot. The antagonist in each of these cases happens to be female, but can also be a male character. She is either forced to be with the protagonist or is enticed and drawn to the metamorph.
The cure that the metamorph character longs for is love. When the antagonist loves the beast he is cured and restored to his human form. The cure is salvation by love.

Act 1:
Meet the beast. In this act we are introduced to the protagonist already in his or her metamorph state. We don't know why he or she is a beast, but we see them as they are and often like the antagonist in the story, we are repelled by them. Not only do they look beastly according to whatever nature you as the writer have decided for them, but they have some disgustingly beastly behaviors. They hunt animals and eat raw meat. They drink your blood, or howl at the moon. Maybe they eat spiders, yuck. So the curse of the metamorph is not just in their physical appearance but also in their behavior.

Enter the antagonist. Your beast has been waiting for this character. Now that they have met, the story is propelled forward by action and reaction to one another. By the end of the first act, the antagonist is disgusted by the sight, smell, habits of the metamorph. This character would rather be somewhere else and will fight internally or literally to be free, unless they are hypnotized by something the metamorph does.

Act 2:
Pile on the complications and show us how these two characters feel. In this act, the antagonist wants to escape and this desire will motivate the antagonist at every turn. The protagonist beast will either capture the antagonist again or be successful at preventing his departure.

Act 3:
The terms of the release have reached a climax. Does she kiss the frog? Declare her love? Murder the beast in order to release him or her from their curse because of love? In Beauty and the Beast, he is transformed back into a prince, in Dracula, he is dead with a stake through the heart.

In today's ever changing genre game, this plot is played with and incorporated into many others. Perhaps Dracula bathes in sunscreen so he can go outside during the day. Maybe the wolfman uses hot wax. Okay…I'm going over board with that one. I am currently developing a metamorph character but I am starting with her transformation so it isn't strictly a metamorph plot. In this series, my character will get to try on many roles while experiencing her new life as a woman. Like Dracula, she lives forever. Unlike Dracula, she prefers nuts and berries to anyone's blood. You may also be happy to know that there are no sparkles involved.

I know, I know…sad humor.

For more on the metamorphosis plot please read, 20 Master Plots and how to build them, by Ronald B. Tobias, available from your local retailer or at an online store. Or click on the link to Amazon's site and get it there.

Next week the master plot will be, Transformation.
Are you working on a Metamorphosis plot or have you written one?



mooderino said...

Haha, i like the idea of a werewolf who has to get loads of body waxes (painful!). Haven't seen anyone use that idea.


Jeffrey Beesler said...

I have to agree with Mooderino. Body waxes enforced upon werewolves is a highly original idea!

Jules said...

Just stopping by to say Hey. How's it going? Got Tiger's badge up and trying to find time to get back into things.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Joanne said...

I haven't written a metamorphosis plot, but think that change is so crucial in most stories. It's always fascinating to see how some metamorphosis of spirit, or wisdom, or behavior, comes about.

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Mood.

I was typing away, Jeffrey, and the idea sprang on me. LOL

Hi Jules, nice to see you. I hope all is well with you.

You made great points in your comment Joanne.

Thanks everyone who dropping in and leaving a comment.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We're getting closer, but I think mine is more transformation.

N. R. Williams said...

Interesting Alex, we'll find out.

Anonymous said...

This has a lot to do with chatracter arc. Beauty and the Beast is a great example of the character going through trials and tribulations in order to transform through into something better at the end of the sotry. Nicely done.

David Powers King said...

I have used this device before, and it's one of my favorites. Excellent, detailed post on the process of it all.

I tagged you on my blog today. :)

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Stephen for your comment.

Thank you David, I am glad you enjoyed the post. I'm tagged, not sure if I should run around like a crazy person. LOL Just kidding. I appreciate it very much.

Thank you both for stopping by.

Holly Ruggiero said...

I haven't used it yet. Thanks for all the info.

N. R. Williams said...

You're welcome Holly.

L'Aussie said...

Hi Nancy. I enjoyed this and am looking forward to transformation. All stories must show change in some way.


N. R. Williams said...

Hi Denise,
I agree. I think character development is so important.

LTM said...

ooo, I like this! I like this! And all the time I'd been thinking about it backwards.

I gotta say, on first glance, I thought of poor Gregor who awoke to find himself transformed into a monstrous vermin.

bleah! I hated that story~ LOL! :D

N. R. Williams said...

That is a story I haven't read. Glad you like this plot.