Does Goal determine Protagonist and Antagonist in Holistic stories?

I’ve been reading the articles on Holistic PS stories and started watching the videos on how to make a story with Subtext and I got to video 5 where beats are added for the Antagonist, so I was wondering, if the premise statement for a Holistic story now uses OS Issue instead of Story Goal, is whoever Pursues or Avoids that still the Pro- and Antagonist or is it whoever Pursues/Avoids the Issue? Or perhaps something else?

Maybe it’s just harder in my case since I’m dealing with a story where no one is villainous and the MC is a good guy who tries Avoiding trouble but I wanted to ask.

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Villainous does not equal Antagonist.

Someone who is avoiding or trying to get people to reconsider can be considered an Antagonist in your story.

If you haven’t, check out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Tom Wilkinson is a classic Antagonist, but isn’t a “villain”. Frodo is a classic Contagonist.

Even though the Premise focuses on Issue, the concept of a “Goal” and “Consequence” still exist within the Storyform–they should just probably be labeled something different.

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I know an antagonist doesn’t have to be villainous-- it’s just kind of easier to identify when there’s a character who’s clearly “Ha ha, Protagonist, I shall stop you from achieving your goal!”

So, the Protagonist is still for the Story Goal and Pursuit, and Antagonist for Avoiding the Goal (and wanting the Consequence) then?



Technically, they’re really not “for” anything - and particularly, in light of a Holistic-structured story, you wouldn’t want to think of it that way as much as probably an intention TOWARDS something (“goal”) and an intention AWAY from something (“consequence”…which seems silly to put in this context now).

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Is the Protagonist just whichever character who does the most Pursuing of anything in general (therefore they represent Pursuit as a trait) or is it within the context of the Story Goal-- the Protagonist is the character in Pursuit of that goal (which is what I thought it was. That’s what I meant by “for” the goal).

Some goals seem easier to imagine as Holistic to me. I don’t know if that’s correct, but nebulous things like an overall sense of happiness or improving the wellbeing of a community-- stuff where there doesn’t seem to be a clear end to it (there’s an acceptable level of improvement to reach, but there’s always room for more in the future) or one clear path to get there (ex. happiness in life likely involves many factors), seem like that kind of goal, as opposed to a goal like “save the world from a deadly meteor.”

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If you filter out all the storyforms in Subtext to just show those that are Holistic Problem-solving style, you’ll find that 99.9999% of them are all about the SELF.

Holism is about bringing the self into alignment with the external world in order to facilitate or allow an outcome.

You won’t find a Holistic-minded story that is about saving the world from a deadly meteor. Even The Matrix, which seems to be about “saving humanity” is really about saving Neo.


I noticed that the writing videos involve thinking of Drivers and Signposts like chains, which sounds like cause and effect to me. Does the same method of thinking of Drivers and Signposts as a chain hold true for writing beats in a Holistic story?

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I’m not @jhull. But I’d guess not.

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If there is a difference, it’d be handy to see a video on putting together a Holistic story. Seeing the process has made me feel hopeful about times when I get kinda stuck since I can see people work through the tough spots relatively efficiently.


That is a seriously great question.

The relationship between the Story Driver and the Main Character Approach (Throughline) is more important in a Holistic story than the cause-and-effect relationship between Actions and Decisions in a Linear structured story.

What seems to work best now is the idea of the Main Character “getting out of his or her own way” in the resolution of inequity when the Driver conflicts with the point-of-view of the MC (Decision/Do-er or Action/Be-er).

The absence of this resistance simply makes it easier for the Holistic to allow the outcome.

Are the agents really forced in action because of Morpehus’ Decision that Neo is the one? Not really.

Is the group forced to fight the agents because of Cypher’s Decision to throw them all under the bus. For sure…but is that part of the essence of the meaning of the story? (which is what Premise is all about). Not really.

When illustrating the “Driver” for a Holistic-minded story (another instance where the Appreciation should change given the shift in context), I would focus more on the relationship between this item and the Main Character’s Approach–which is really about whether or not they are in a place to facilitate greater flow (internally set when internal aligns with the objective) or if greater resistance stands in their way (internally set when the external continues to press against).

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Yeah, “getting out of his own way” is an apt description of what I was going for in an Action/Be-er story.

Would one still use the OS Signposts or use the MC Signposts instead to write beats?

If “Driver” is too reminiscent of cause and effect to effectively describe that Appreciation in a Holistic story, then what exactly is the relationship between an Action (or Decision) and the Signpost that follows it?

I am woefully behind on your advances into thinking about Holistic characters. But I’m not going to let that hold me back from offering thoughts!

I am curious if another version of “getting out of his/her way” is something like “riding the wave”. (This might be the exact same thing, but from the POV of the OS?)

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My thinking on Holistic stories :wink: is here: The Holistic Premise

But “riding the wave” sounds good for stories where the MC perspective is aligned with the Story Driver (Do-er/Action, Be-er/Decision).

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I picture “getting out of one’s own way” is stuff like learning to control fears or behaviors that are messing up or preventing you from achieving your desires or plans.

@jhull should the beats for Holistic be written as Driver and MC Throughline instead of Driver and OS Throughline?

Change, also, would fit.

I waffled even writing what I wrote, because I knew it was stories but wasn’t educated enough to believe.

Should the beats for Holistic be written as alternating between Driver and OS Throughline as in the Linear example from the videos, or as Driver and MC Throughline?