HowTo:Be a Brave Protagonist
I'm pretty sure you've all have heard the story of the Protagonist before. Indeed, any piece of fiction features this admirable person who's basically the guy you're supposed to root for throughout the story. However, after reading such stories, a lot of people actually want to become heroes themselves. Well worry not, ladies and gentlemen, because I have come up with a much more personalized approach to becoming a hero, whether it may may be a "movie" type of hero, or a "gaming" type of hero (I'd say literary, but they'll adapt the book into a movie anyway). So fasten your seat-belts, and get ready to learn How To Become a Brave Protagonist!
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Okay, first things first. Most protagonists start out without even being aware that they're the protagonists. It's true, I mean look at Harry Potter who argued like hell with the giant dude Hagrid over whether he was even a wizard, let alone the guy destined to destroy the evil Lord Voldemort. Heck he didn't even know that the asshole murdered his parents as a consequence of being lied to throughout his childhood.
Similarly, Neo from The Matrix didn't know he was the One who was destined to combat the Matrix until the end of the first film in the series! Moral of the story- you don't choose the adventure, the adventure chooses you!
Unfortunately, once the adventure has
overlooked chosen you, you won't have time to think. Countless protagonists have jumped from one life-threatening situation to another without ever getting a grip on what's going on. I know, trying to save your own life without knowing who wants you dead and why is a bit creepy and very, very annoying. But that's just the way things are.
Of course there are some notable exceptions to the above rule. Take Harry Potter again, for instance. The guy was not only given the whole scoop on who Voldemort was, what all he did, etc, etc...but he also got to meet him at the end of the first movie! So if you're lucky, you may actually get an idea of the storyline before having a near-death experience, but I still think you shouldn't count on it.
You should also forget about trying to back out of the adventure, because the storyline has a way of convincing you that if you walk away, you'll either be dead, or live the rest of your life as a pathetic example to all those whose hopes and dreams were relying on you. And why should you back out anyways when your life is in danger, and the antagonist killed your family, and it's your destiny to become a hero, and eternal glory awaits you, etc, etc....?
If you do back out despite the overwhelming incentive not to, you'll either be killed or forgotten, and another primary protagonist will replace you. Being the good guy is a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.
Okay, so after the roller-coaster ride you were taken for when the adventure began, it's finally time for you to get in control of things. Most heroes are often very vulnerable in the beginning, and other supporting characters have to protect them from the more dangerous threats that roam the adventure. You will often have to battle weaker, dumber bad guys before moving onto the stronger, more powerful ones. And it takes time in honing your skills, trust me. Fortunately, most adventures--excluding the old NES & SNES RPGs and the dreaded MMORPGs-- either speed up or skip over this process for the simple reason that it's boring. Nobody wants you to see you doing target practice or gunning down a couple of minions, they want to see the real stuff--you gunning down hundreds of minions while the entire place is shaking and falling apart. And once you think you're powerful enough, you can finally start looking at the big picture, and maybe even try to battle the primary antagonist! However, that is much easier said than done as adventures seldom end in one go. Almost every protagonist has to participate in "sequels" or future installments of the adventure. This is mainly done to give the "audience" (the guys munching popcorn while watching you risk life and limb time and again) a sense of suspense and anticipation for what is going to come next. Your first adventure is therefore rarely your final one, and can end in many ways. For example
In a more literal sense, this would have meant you hanging of a cliff, just seconds away from certain death. However, the more broad meaning of this is a high-risk, life threatening situation you're put in, before the adventure suddenly ends, and your fate is left hanging in the balance.
A Storm is coming
This is one of the most commonly used endings for a first installment. Though you have defeated the antagonist of the first adventure, it's pretty clear that your journey is only going to get darker and more difficult from here on. This type of ending can be further subdivided into-
The Larger Scheme of Things
The antagonist of the first adventure was definitely NOT the main guy you have to worry about. No, the main antagonist is someone much more powerful, and terrifying, and formidable. Chances are you have absolutely no idea who the main bad guy in the larger scheme of things is. And the "larger scheme of things" is usually revealed as a twist ending to your the first adventure, just when you thought things would get back to normal. However, it may also be revealed in the sequel, where the world is put in yet another existence-threatening situation, even though you distinctly remember saving it some time ago. This is also the only type of ending after which the protagonist may change.
I'll Be Back
In this case, the antagonist of the first adventure is, actually, the main bad guy of the entire series of adventures you'll go through. However, you haven't actually defeated him, just whacked him hard enough to stop him from bothering you anymore. But rest assured (or don't, if you have any common sense), that he will return, one way or another. And the antagonist, as you knew him in the first adventure, will seem like a tiny, wussy sissy compared to what you're about to face later on.
The Plot Thickens
Now that you know that your adventure won't end that easily, get ready for some more bad news. Almost all adventures get darker and murkier as the story progresses. The Harry Potter series is a clear example of a typical adventure series where the body count rises exponentially with every new movie released. Harry first lost his godfather Sirius Black, then he lost his mentor Albus Dumbledore, and then he lost almost everyone else who was close to him in the final book.(Thank God they didn't take Ron and Hermione).
A similar fate awaits you. So, you should set aside some time every day preparing the Eulogies of your comrades, as most of them are likely to die once your ordeal is over.
You are also likely to be betrayed at crucial points in your adventure. The shock you get when a supporting character suddenly turns against you is guaranteed to throw you off balance, both figuratively and literally, as the traitor will probably try to kill you soon after his true colors are revealed. Such shocking betrayals work as excellent plot twists, sending a chill down your and the audience's spines. They're also a major reason why your adventures become more and more difficult as you progress, for can you really fight an enemy who used to be a friend of yours? No doubt you will hesitate, giving the traitor the perfect opportunity to knock you out and run away. Of course he won't be able to kill you; nobody will until the adventure ends. However, as the adventure gets darker and deeper, your resolve to get it over with will become stronger. In many cases, progressively darker storylines result in much more powerful protagonists, who are hell-bent on making the bad guy pay for what all he has done to them. Losing the ones you love and seeing your "friends" for the shallow and despicable assholes that they truly are actually serves as a great motivational tool for you to keep ploughing on towards the final battle.
The Final Battle
The final battle is often the last in a line of increasingly difficult and intense battles you will fight against the primary antagonist's minions. Obviously, the final battle is the battle where you will defeat the primary antagonist and thwart his Evil Plan. For this reason, unfortunately, final battles frequently take place at the antagonist's home ground. Because of this, you basically have to hide, fend off countless minions, hide again, and fend of more countless minions before you can get anywhere close to confronting the main antagonist.
Because of the scale of such battles, you rarely (not never, rarely) fight them alone. Usually, you fight them along with a band of supporting characters who managed to survive all the ordeals your adventure put you through. Of course, as the previous section explained, you have probably lost a lot of your loved ones, so you're avenging them too.
The final battle usually begins when you breach the antagonist's headquarters, or ambush him when he's in the middle of his Grand Operation. Soon enough, the security starts running in, and the lengthy process of hiding and fighting it out begins. Much of the final battle involves you running around the battlefield, shooting hordes of minions down, while your partners provide a running commentary of where the primary antagonist is, or how can you thwart his Evil Plan.
Eventually, you will finish off most of the primary antagonist's minions, and face the main bad guy himself. How this happens can vary from adventure to adventure. You may finally get to the place where he's holed up, and force your way in. Or he himself may come out and start attacking you and your team (he may ask you to switch to the dark side first, but you'll obviously refuse). Or he may try to escape, but you catch up with him.
Either way, you usually handle the final encounter with the primary antagonist on your own. This is because you, as the Brave Protagonist, are going to get the much-needed "limelight" as you finish your quest once and for all. The encounter is usually very, very intense, and it usually involves the two of you running around, trying to shoot each other's heads off, indulging in lengthy hand-to-hand combat sequences, all the while going on and on about how "You'll never defeat me! I'm going to rule the world/kill you/become the richest man ever/become immortal/etc, etc...!" (in case of the Primary Antagonist) and how "You destroyed everything I loved. Everything I lived for. I'm gonna make you pay!" (in case of you).
Eventually, the battle will end, in one of the following ways
The antagonist falls
This is the simplest of endings. You either corner the bad guy and finish him off, or just finish him off when he's on the run. In case you corner him, there will probably a dramatic dialogue where you give him one last chance to surrender and repent for his misdeeds, or you mock him for how he failed miserably in taking you down. Either way, the bad guy is going to give one last roar of defiance before you kill him.
In case you finish him off while he's still on the run, you and your surviving team will walk up to his corpse and give a Eulogy that can be summed up as "What a waste". In rare cases, the antagonist may get up and try to attack you one last time, but you'll easily kill him for good when that happens. However, in worst case scenarios, the antagonist may manage to get away, resulting in an "I'll be Back" type of ending.
Cornered protagonist wins
In this case, the antagonist manages to corner you first. Often, this is a result of you falling into one of his "traps", or him mortally wounding you when the audience least expected it. HE will then walk up to YOU, and start gloating about how you should have never messed with him, how you're too late to stop him now, how he's gonna win, etc, etc.... However, in a dramatic twist, you pick up a weapon that was lying on the ground, and finish the antagonist off! Or you inexplicably manage to get up and beat the antagonist to death, regardless of the shape you're in. Or a supporting character sneaks up and gets rid of the antagonist. In any case, the antagonist is bound to die. You could die too, in which case the ending becomes Cornered protagonist wins, and dies.
The antagonist surrenders
In this case, the antagonist actually agrees to surrender and repent for his crimes. The law-enforcement agencies take him away, and nobody cares enough to find out about his ultimate fate, although he's probably going to become a reformed saint, or get a lethal injection.
WARNING: This ending could easily turn into an "I'll be back" if the antagonist manages to escape on the way to prison, or ends up breaking out of prison. Be sure to check the antagonist's face for signs of deception if he claims he's going to mend his ways. Also, be sure that there are no supporting antagonists surviving, as they could help him escape, or go on to become the main antagonists in the "Larger Scheme of Things".
Now that your battles are over, and the main antagonist is taken care of, it's time to bid your journey goodbye. Fortunately, you'll have ample time to do so, as there will be a grand welcoming ceremony for you as you heroically return to your homeland. On second thought, maybe not, given the increasingly cliched nature of such ceremonies. You're far more likely to be welcomed by a bunch of very emotional, teary-eyed people who you may have come across at some point in your adventures. There will be a lot of people thanking you for all you've done, and a lot of people who will swear that they will be forever thankful to you, even though you may have absolutely no idea if you have ever met them before.
Once the entire "welcome back and thank you" bit is over, you'll also get plenty of time to catch up with your supporting protagonists. Of course, you're all best friends for life now, and you may even get hitched to one of them if he/she belongs to the opposite sex (gay protagonists are not really in fashion right now, though that could change.....). You'll all be going on and on about what all you've been through, how great it feels now that your ordeal is over, and how you all will never forget each other. All the while, the audience will also get a little emotional, and there will be plenty of dramatic music playing in the background.
Finally, the adventure will end with your whole life going back to normal. And trust me, you'll "Thank Heavens" when that happens.
- In case you die: In case you die, the adventure will end in your solemn funeral, where your heartbroken comrades will emotionally proclaim what a great guy you were, how everybody owes their safety and sanctuary to you, and how nobody will ever forget what you've done. The adventure will end on a very sad note, as everybody will act as though they're weighed down by the loss of your life, even though their lives will eventually get back to normal. But rest assured, they've already paid some sort of tribute to you, like naming their children after you or something.