Play Doctoring

Part 2 of Constructing a Pitch – Dramatic Structure

Here we have on the operating ta— I mean, stage — four characters to build a play with.

Cast of characters –

  • Sick people. They live in sickening houses. Most don’t know their home is making them sick, though some suspect.
  • Health care payers. Sick care, not health care, really. They pay to make sick people better.
  • Contractors. Home fixers. Sometimes healers, if the home they fix was making people sick.
  • Building scientists.  They find ways to make homes healthy, and figure out why houses often make their occupants sick.

Next step – Pick one of those four to be the protagonist.

What’s a protagonist?

  • The character the play is about.
  • The character who drives the action, who makes things happen.
  • The character the audience walks with, or identifies with.
  • The character who changes the most.

Who is the protagonist of my original, failed pitch?

The emerging discovery that it’s cheaper to treat asthma by fixing people’s homes than by prescribing them asthma drugs.

Oh, my God. The protagonist of my pitch is … health care payors.

Of course it failed. What was I thinking? Let’s try again.

How about home-sickened people for the protagonist? They are very sympathetic. But in my reporting on these families, they are passive in solving their problem. They don’t diagnose the cause of their illness and seek a cure. They just luck into a contractor who’s interested in the diagnosis and treatment of buildings.

Can we use contractors as our protagonist? They have lots of advantages as a story base. My sources want to help people, and they  keep up with the latest discoveries about fixing unhealthy homes. They have great stories about sick people they’ve helped. And the sick people have stories about how sick they were, how the contractor identified the problem, and how much better they feel now.

But. I think so many people have had so many bad experiences with unreliable contractors of one sort or another, that readers and editors will not follow a contractor into a story. Darn. Some of these contractors are really good, smart people. But I don’t think our audience (readers) will accept them as a main character.

That leaves building scientists to be the protagonist. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Next post, let’s see if I can make that work.