Protagonist: Writing Your Dream Main-Character~Part 1
© Copyright Arabella K. Federico
How Protagonist and Plot Dovetail together to create a dynamic merge that gives your readers a main-character wroth fighting for.
"It's not about the Plot-It's about The Lie, The Journey, & The Truth."- Arabella K. Federico
To begin, my blog post “Why You’re Writing Your Mentor All Wrong” speaks to this notion of the Protagonist’s journey. Those writing their novels from the approach of an external plot, idea, or premise aren’t wrong, per-say, but they’re just missing an element. In the beginning of the journey, I did this, too. Aaaannnnddd I wrote myself into quite a few corners because of it. Stories aren’t JUST about the plot. Contrarily, stories that are compelling are so compelling because the audience’s brain is hooked on one simple inkling that you plant in the very beginning: curiosity. Our brains are wired to connect things unconsciously. So, if you write your Protagonist the right way, they’ll have your readers salivating to know what happens to this character and how it’ll affect the story. Because that’s all that truly matters: how plot affects the Protagonist
The "T" word
How the internal mixes with the external To Create a dynamic protagonist
1./ What specific issues would my character have that would make the events of my plot matter specifically to her?
2./ What other scenarios or events happened in my Protagonist's life that showed her this lie was "true?"
3./ What does my Protagonist want more than anything, and how does that desire keep her lie alive in her mind?
4./How can my Hook and Inciting Incident set up my Protagonist to choose between her lie and what she wants?
4.5./ The Inciting Incident is always going to be what the Protagonist wants-but with a major catch
5./ what does my protagonist actually NEED?
Only you can answer this, but it is going to be the major “Wake-Up-Call” your Protagonist has after the “Dark Night of the Soul” in Act 3. Your Protagonist will ultimately discover that what she wanted so badly-yeah… it isn’t going to give her any of what she expected it to. She isn’t happy, she isn’t fulfilled; because that “want” was never what she truly needed. Let’s take our fake Protagonist-she thought she wanted her father’s love, but what she realizes right before the Climax is that his love won’t complete her. It won’t make her whole. But her own self-love, self-worth WILL bring her that solace and peace. Not her father’s. Therefore, once she’s found this inner strength and new found self-worth; she’s able to fully take on the antagonistic force. She would not be able to win against the antagonist if not for this realization.
Was that just a character arc breakdown?? Mmm....Yeah.
I know I sound like a broken record, but don't forget about theme!
Now that we've got a very flawed Protagonist with all the trimmings, it's time to allow them to royally mess shit up.
- Shard of Glass/Backstory where your Protagonist’s heart becomes so broken they begin to believe a lie and misbelief that will ultimately affect them for the majority of the story. Causing all sorts of trouble.
- Reinforce this lie over and over again in your Protagonist’s backstory. They need to have it pounded into them that whatever the lie is-that it’s true and they believe it with their whole being.
If you don’t know the three-act structure very well, study up Here. It’ll be crucial for part 2!
- What does your Protagonist believe will makes them truly happy and how does that connect with their Lie and keep it alive in their mind?
- Craft a Hook/Inciting Incident that’ll force your Protagonist to choose between the comfort of their normal/status quo life where they’ll never get a chance at what they want-OR-give them the opportunity to maybe get what they want, but with a high risk and huge push outside comfort zone.
- What does your Protagonist NEEEEEEEEEEEEED??? Let them finally discover it before the Climactic tension hits its high point.
- Tie in the Theme (which is opposite of the Lie) at the end to push your point home.