A Past Cause is someone the MC depended on in the past to obtain the Past Desire she is evaluating in her backstory. This is someone she was able to trust and who guided her in one or more of the four Cause ways: Exemplar, Provider, Teacher, or Evaluator.
As she explores what he did for her, she is able to compare and contrast her Present Cause with him.
She may also need to identify a Cause in her Present Desire Obtainment Process (DOP) and if she remembers a Cause that has proven his trustworthiness in the Past, she may be able to return to him and ask him for his assistance once again. In fact, this is often how an MC identifies and actively chooses her Cause. In a Present DOP, she is often testing her Cause and acting on a leap of faith or a hypothesis that this is a Balanced Altruistic Commitment Cause. When looking back at a Past Cause, her hypothesis has been validated.
Of course, we can see that Past Causes may not always be Balanced Altruistic Commitment Causes. A Cause may have turned out to be the opposite:
An Unbalanced Self-centered, Changeable Cause.
And this type of Cause often plays the Antagonist in a story.
But it is important to see that even this Past relationship with an Antagonist Cause gives our MC experience and knowledge so that she can differentiate between him and a Guidance Cause.
Exploring Past Causes is a crucial aspect of the MC’s character development and her journey to obtain her Present Desire. By revisiting her Past Causes, she can gain insights into the nature of trust and the qualities she seeks in her Present Cause. This introspection helps the readers understand the MC’s motives, fears, and desires, adding depth to her character.
Past Causes can serve as a reference point for the MC to evaluate her Present Cause. She can compare the guidance and support she received in the past with what she is receiving now, allowing her to assess the authenticity and reliability of her Present Cause.
The idea of returning to a Past Cause for assistance in the Present Desire Obtainment Process adds an element of continuity to the story. It emphasizes the significance of relationships and how past experiences shape the present. This connection between past and present also showcases the MC’s growth and how she learns from her past to make more informed choices in the present.
It’s also essential to recognize that not all Past Causes are positive influences. Some Past Causes may have been negative, self-centered, or harmful, which could serve as a contrast to the MC’s Present Cause. This contrast adds tension and complexity to the story, driving conflict and character development.
Incorporating Past Causes into the narrative allows the story to delve into the MC’s emotional journey, highlighting the impact that significant people have had on her life. It provides opportunities for the MC to confront her past, make amends, and heal from past wounds, fostering a sense of growth and resolution in her character arc.
Overall, exploring Past Causes enriches the storytelling by deepening the MC’s character, revealing her vulnerabilities and strengths, and providing a context for her present relationships and choices. It allows the readers to connect with the MC on a more profound and emotional level, making her journey more compelling and relatable.
You said, “Past Causes may have been negative, self-centered, or harmful..” When I created this story theory, I had to catch myself when using the words “negative”, “harmful”, or “bad” because that required me to define them first. What is a negative Desire or Cause? What is harmful Desire or Cause? What is a bad Desire or Cause? So many people disagree on what bad and good are. And many get offended when we make statements like, “That is a bad Desire” or “That is a good Cause”.
So that’s why I now can use the variables for a good Cause:
Balanced, Altruistic, and Committed (or Steadfast).
I guess a Changeable Cause can also be a Merciful or Flexible Cause. We’ll get into that in the next variables. But the Combination of being Balanced, Altruistic, and Committed as well as Merciful means that the Cause is good.
When a Cause is Imbalanced, Self-centered, and Uncommitted and is Unchanging in the Self-centered way of governing (guiding, providing, evaluating, being an example, teaching) our MC’s community and/or her personally, he is a bad Cause.
You make a valid point, and you are right in being cautious about labeling Desires or Causes as “good” or “bad” without clear definitions. These terms can indeed be subjective and open to interpretation, leading to different perspectives and potential offense.
Using the variables to describe a “good” Cause as Balanced, Altruistic, and Committed is a more objective and measurable approach. These descriptors provide specific qualities that are beneficial in a Cause, and they don’t rely on subjective judgments of morality or goodness. Similarly, using the variable of Changeable for a Cause adds an additional dimension to its character, which allows for variations and complexities in the Cause’s behavior and intentions.
The focus on characteristics like Balance, Altruism, Commitment, and Mercy gives a clear framework for evaluating Causes without imposing subjective value judgments. This approach helps the story remain grounded in its own internal logic and makes it more relatable to different readers.
By using the story theory’s variables, you can delve deeper into the nuances of a Cause’s character and actions without resorting to vague or value-laden terms like “good” or “bad.” This approach maintains a level of objectivity while still allowing for moral complexity and character development in the narrative.
Ultimately, by using the variables to define the qualities and actions of the MC and the characters in the story, you can maintain a consistent and well-defined framework that guides the storytelling and character arcs without falling into subjective judgments that could alienate readers or oversimplify the complexity of human behavior and desires.
Okay, thanks for that way of describing this. It’s also important to be cautious of the words we’re using.
You said: “…rely on subjective judgments of morality or goodness…”
Morality is another word for an Altruistic Process. Subjective Judgment is another way of saying that our MC needs to pay attention to the Effects she experiences. We do want to rely upon these things. But rather than state that a Process is altruistic in and of itself, we need to show why it is or is not throughout the story. Morality is a conclusion, not an inappropriate judgment. But you are right in that the conclusion of what is moral and what is not cannot be forced upon others. Yet what kind of person would our MC be if she has journeyed to obtain a valuable Desire and has found it and found that an Altruistic Process is what has made all the difference in her self-fulfillment, what kind of person would she be if she didn’t try to share that with others?
Some characters in our story may want to force Morality or Altruistic Processes on other characters. An Altruistic Process requires voluntary self-sacrifice for friends and family. It also requires voluntary self-sacrifice for people (who are usually family members or friends) who are currently processing in Self-centeredness. This can’t be forced.
You make an important distinction between presenting conclusions about morality or altruism and showing the reasons and experiences that lead to those conclusions within the story. It is indeed essential to let the readers draw their own conclusions based on the events and character development they witness throughout the narrative.
In storytelling, it is often more impactful and relatable to show the process of a character’s growth and understanding rather than imposing judgments on them directly. By allowing readers to see the experiences, dilemmas, and choices the MC faces, they can better relate to the character’s journey and draw their own conclusions about what is moral, altruistic, or ethical in that context.
Furthermore, attempting to force morality or altruistic processes on other characters within the story can lead to conflicts and challenges, which add depth and tension to the narrative. The idea of voluntary self-sacrifice and the exploration of characters’ choices and motivations create a more engaging and thought-provoking reading experience.
As you mentioned, the MC’s journey and her understanding of what brings self-fulfillment through an altruistic process can inspire her to share those experiences and insights with others. In doing so, she can be a positive influence on other characters and demonstrate the importance of choices and the impact of actions on personal growth and the well-being of the community.
By presenting characters and their decisions authentically and allowing readers to witness the consequences of their choices, the story can effectively explore complex moral and ethical themes without being didactic or judgmental. This approach can lead to a more profound and meaningful engagement with the narrative for readers.