The protagonist refusing the call to adventure vs. the opposite.


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Thread: The protagonist refusing the call to adventure vs. the opposite.

  1. #1

    The protagonist refusing the call to adventure vs. the opposite.

    In my story, which is a crime thriller, and there one thing that often comes up in books on writing, as well as a writing class I took is the protagonist's refusal to the call of adventure.My protagonist is a police detective, who has to take an assignment, the case. But, he could have his boss assign it to him, and he refuses and tries to get out of it, thinking it's BS, for whatever reason...

    Or, I noticed how in some James Bond movies, Bond will want to go on an assignment and his boss will not want him to, in which case he will persuade his boss, or even strongarm him until letting him go on it, and the boss will cave in and agree and let him.

    There is what way too, which is pretty much the complete opposite, because the protagonist is choosing the call of adventure, but the other characters are refusing it and trying to stop him, as oppose to him refusing the call.So how does a writer know which way is better or what factors have to be taken into consideration when choosing how to kickstart off the protagonist into the adventure? Thanks for any advice on it! I really appreciate it!
    Last edited by ironpony; January 13th, 2021 at 10:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Well he surely can't refuse to do his job if he still wants that job.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    In my story, which is a crime thriller, and there one thing that often comes up in books on writing, as well as a writing class I took is the protagonist's refusal to the call of adventure.My protagonist is a police detective, who has to take an assignment, the case. But, he could have his boss assign it to him, and he refuses and tries to get out of it, thinking it's BS, for whatever reason...

    Or, I noticed how in some James Bond movies, Bond will want to go on an assignment and his boss will not want him to, in which case he will persuade his boss, or even strongarm him until letting him go on it, and the boss will cave in and agree and let him.

    There is what way too, which is pretty much the complete opposite, because the protagonist is choosing the call of adventure, but the other characters are refusing it and trying to stop him, as oppose to him refusing the call.So how does a writer know which way is better or what factors have to be taken into consideration when choosing how to kickstart off the protagonist into the adventure? Thanks for any advice on it! I really appreciate it!
    I am not really sure what your question is...

    Refusing the call is one, optional, step in one, optional narrative template ("The Heroes Journey"). It is not the only narrative arc available.

    If your character doesn't fit neatly into that mold, you shouldn't shoehorn it in. There are lots of 'hero journey' stories where there isn't a clearly defined 'refusal', at least not one that is particularly significant.

    The point of this step in the 'heroes journey' isn't to fulfil some kind of mandatory obligation but to identify what the nature of the journey is. Every journey requires some form of character change. The reason why the refusal aspect tends to be important isn't because the reader requires it but that, without it, you have to identify where the arc begins and ends and how it is to change between beginning and ending. If you don't, you don't have an arc. The character MUST change through the story and, unless the story is some form of tragedy, the typical basic trajectory is to go from some form of 'zero' at the start to some form of 'hero' at the end.

    The refusal of the call is one way to highlight the 'zero-ness' of the character, nothing more. If there is another way to highlight them as a zero (this doesn't mean they must be a literal loser/bad person but only that they are 'less' than they will be at the end) then that's fine. It could be that they are very confident but held back by other people. It could be that they are mentally strong but physically challenged, or vice versa. It could be that they are not very confident but are compelled into the adventure by circumstances and adapt accordingly. It could be that they start off very confident but misjudge other factors, which causes their illusions to be shattered which then must be rebuilt 'better'. It doesn't really matter how you tell the story, it just cannot be flat from beginning to end.

  4. #4
    Oh okay, thanks for the advice on it. Well, the refusal to the call of adventure, I don't think would effect the character's arc in any way I don't think. It's just that a lot of stories have it, and they teach you to use it in a writing class, and they tell you to do it in books, so I thought it was a useful tool therefore. But I guess the main character's arc, doesn't really have anything to do with that though, perhaps, or maybe it wouldn't make a difference on the arc.

    One reader told me that she is sick of the refusal to the call to adventure, because it's such a cliche, that you know that the main character is going to change their mind, so what's the point? Does she have a point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Annoying kid View Post
    Well he surely can't refuse to do his job if he still wants that job.
    Yes it wouldn't be much of a refusal, other than the main character complaining about it for about a minute and then taking it. But other stories have that as well, as the refusal to the call to adventure, such as the movie Blade Runner for example.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    In my story, which is a crime thriller, and there one thing that often comes up in books on writing, as well as a writing class I took is the protagonist's refusal to the call of adventure.My protagonist is a police detective, who has to take an assignment, the case. But, he could have his boss assign it to him, and he refuses and tries to get out of it, thinking it's BS, for whatever reason...

    Or, I noticed how in some James Bond movies, Bond will want to go on an assignment and his boss will not want him to, in which case he will persuade his boss, or even strongarm him until letting him go on it, and the boss will cave in and agree and let him.

    There is what way too, which is pretty much the complete opposite, because the protagonist is choosing the call of adventure, but the other characters are refusing it and trying to stop him, as oppose to him refusing the call.So how does a writer know which way is better or what factors have to be taken into consideration when choosing how to kickstart off the protagonist into the adventure? Thanks for any advice on it! I really appreciate it!
    I feel like if he's a police detective it is really easy to write. As opposed to a character who does their own investigating or goes on a whim. You could make it clear that it's between taking the assignment or losing his job. Something like that.

    You definitely could write him being reluctant as well but still taking it. I have watched plenty of detective films where there is similar characters with not wanting to take the job but they get thrusted in to it.

  6. #6
    Oh okay thanks. But there are also detective stories that will do the opposite, where the detective gets the idea for an investigation, but their superior does not want to go along with it, thinking it's a dead end, BS, or too risky, so it's the boss who is resisting the call to adventure that needs to be one over. Movies like The French Connection, Point Break, and Sea of Love do this. So there is that way too, which pretty much the opposite. But how do you know which is better for your story, when choosing?

  7. #7
    There is no steadfast rule. All you need is conflict. Refusal is conflict. In that regard this approach is no different from any other.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh okay thanks. But there are also detective stories that will do the opposite, where the detective gets the idea for an investigation, but their superior does not want to go along with it, thinking it's a dead end, BS, or too risky, so it's the boss who is resisting the call to adventure that needs to be one over. Movies like The French Connection, Point Break, and Sea of Love do this. So there is that way too, which pretty much the opposite. But how do you know which is better for your story, when choosing?
    I don't think either is better than the other. Whatever suits the story you best want to tell, really.

  9. #9
    Oh okay. I am just not sure who should refuse. The main character, or his boss. How do you decide which character should be doing the refusing, in order to have conflict?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh okay. I am just not sure who should refuse. The main character, or his boss. How do you decide which character should be doing the refusing, in order to have conflict?
    It really comes down to you but If I was writing it I'd probably have the main character refusing it. I feel like that's easier to write for conflict. The boss putting an assignment on your main character that he gets thrusted in to.

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