I’ve been working with my friend Mark Haslett on some story writing, ( a great feature script writer I might add) and I realized I had not touched on in my book the role of the “Contagonist”.
Athough I have always used them in my stories, ( Edward in Camp Lazlo is a perfect example of a “contagonist” ) They often side with the antagonist, but have their own motivations, their own “temptations”. But they wouldn’t be against equally throwing the antagonist under a bus along with the protagonist, if it served it’s motives.
Edward, as I said, often went agains’t Lazlo to serve his own need for power and his insecurities, often telling Scoutmaster Lumpus information that would make Lumpus punish Lazlo somehow, helping Edward get an upper hand at the camp.
I lifted these descriptions from Dramatica.com that describe the role very well, leading into it with the role of the “Guardian”.Dramatica may have even coined the word, I’m not sure. But it’s a valid and vital role.
What are the Guardian and Contagonist?
Finally we come to the remaining pair of Archetypal Characters. The first of these archetypes is a common yet often loosely defined set of functions; the second archetype is unique to Dramatica. The first of these characters is the Guardian. The Guardian functions as a teacher/helper who represents the Conscience of the Story Mind. This is a protective character who eliminates obstacles and illuminates the path ahead. In this way, the Guardian helps the Protagonist stay on the proper path to achieve success. Balancing the Guardian is a character representing Temptation in the Story Mind. This character works to place obstacles in the path of the Protagonist, and to lure it away from success. Because this character works to hinder the progress of the Protagonist, we coined the name “Contagonist”.
Contagonist: “Whose side are you on?”
Because the Contagonist and Antagonist both have a negative effect on the Protagonist, they can easily be confused with one another. They are, however, two completely different characters because they have two completely different functions in the Story Mind. Whereas the Antagonist works to stop the Protagonist, the Contagonist acts to deflect the Protagonist. The Antagonist wants to prevent the Protagonist from making further progress, the Contagonist wants to delay or divert the Protagonist for a time.
As with the Sidekick, the Contagonist can be allied with either the Antagonist or the Protagonist. Often, Contagonists are cast as the Antagonist’s henchman or second-in-command. However, Contagonists are sometimes attached to the Protagonist, where they function as a thorn in the side and bad influence. As a pair, Guardian and Contagonist function in the Story Mind as Conscience and Temptation, providing both a light to illuminate the proper path and the enticement to step off it.