5 Ways to Keep Your Protagonist Proactive – Written By Janice Hardy

on Writers in the Storm blog:

Get your protagonist up off the couch and into the story.

When I was six, I wrote a series called Dog City that followed the adventures of a team of dog archaeologists as they searched for a lost city of, you guessed it, dogs. It was all of four books, bound in aged cardboard from the backs of legal pads, and custom illustrated.

Laugh all you want, but that series had a more proactive protagonist than the “real novel” I wrote twenty years later.

Those industrious little puppers had goals—to find that lost city and fetch a rare magical item that would save the world from evil dinosaurs (it really should have been mailmen, right?). My “real novel” had a protagonist who was being manipulated by gods for a variety of reasons, and there was a prophecy she didn’t want to be a part of, and some romance, and an evil sorcerer, and a curse…you get the picture.

Even written in crayon, the dog story was better because it had a protagonist actively trying to achieve a goal and resolve a problem, and not just a protagonist who only acted when something else forced her to. My six-year-old self knew what the story was about and who was driving that story. My older self did not.

That’s the difference between a proactive and a reactive character, and why some novels flatline even though the scenes are filled with exciting problems.

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Don’t Let Your Plot Hijack Your Story – Written By Janice Hardy

Janice Hardy published an interesting blog post about plot and story not being alined in our book. Thanks a lot for that article, Janice.


The plot illustrates the story, but sometimes, it has a mind of its own and takes your novel in the wrong direction.

It’s a common enough tale. You’re writing away, listening to your characters and letting them run the show. They’re diverting a little from your outline, but that’s okay because where they’re going is good stuff. Or maybe you’re the kind of writer who doesn’t have an outline, and you’re enjoying this unexpected path your characters have taken.

 

And they keep doing it.

And doing it.

And doing it.

You follow because the plot is moving and it seems like a good idea, and the words are coming fast and furious. You’re getting a huge amount of writing done. You’re feeling so productive!

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