It's a Bird, it's a Plane... It's Super-Protagonist!

As I rework a flawed synopsis, I'm reminded of a writing basic, a touchstone so elementary that it's easy to forget among all the complexities of crafting a novel.

The book's protagonist must play an active role in solving his/her own problems.

Throughout the story, the main character needs to do more than simply react to events (although she may certainly start out doing so). She needs to be the one who makes things happens, forces responses in the opposition, and becomes a factor that absolutely cannot be ignored. Naturally, her initial attempts to influence the plot may fail, fall short, or have unintended (even fatal) consequences (setting up your story's black moment.) But she must persevere, becoming an active catalyst -- in other words a hero -- if the author expects the reader to root for her success.

Think about it. Did Luke Skywalker sit around moaning about the evil Empire and wait for someone to rescue his hayseed butt? Did Scarlett O'Hara tweedle-de-dee her thumbs until someone picked out the right man to solve all her troubles? Did Elizabeth Bennett sigh gratefully as the first solution to her family's precarious financial situation (the hilariously-odious Mr. Collins) made an offer? Each one of these characters possessed not only a strong will but the courage to act upon it at great risk.

These are the characters we armchair quarterbacks (the readers of this world) want to cheer on, admire, and emulate. So today, think about your book's plot and ask yourself if your book's protagonist is active or acted upon throughout the majority of your plot.

Because in the world of heroes and heroines, no "drifting dust motes" need apply!


Suzan Harden said…
Bonus points for the pic of Xena: Warrior Princess!
Yep, Xena, Rosie the Riveter, and especially Wonder Woman are my heroes! :)

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