Tag Archive - Protagonist with a Goal

The Sensitive, Passionate Character

We’ve been taking a look at the second key “corner pillar” in this course on the 12 key pillars of novel construction, which is all about the protagonist and her goal for the book. I mentioned in recent posts how important it is for the protagonist to have a goal and how obvious and simple that might seem, yet few novels I critique include this necessary element—which I will say is crucial.

It’s very common for the protagonist to start off with one goal, only to quickly (meaning, yes, fairly early into your story) be pushed in another direction altogether, creating a “new” goal—which then becomes the “real” goal for the book. Without going into this twist in depth, you can read all about it in this post I wrote a while back. But for now, just be aware that, tied in with your concept and themes, there should be an overarching or main goal your character is trying to reach. Continue Reading…

Resonating with Both Classic Heroes and Dark Protagonists

We’ve been exploring the first four key pillars of novel construction—the primary supports for any novel. We’re going to look at twelve in the course of this year, but a good chunk of time is being spent on the critical corner pillars. I’ve mentioned that although you can work on these four pillars separately, invariably they rely on each other to create a solid foundation for your story. These pillars are concept with a kicker, protagonist with a goal, conflict with high stakes, and theme with a heart.

We’ve covered concept with a kicker in numerous posts (start with this one, if you missed any), and have been delving into protagonist with a goal in the latest posts. Needless to say, we could spend a year on how to develop a great protagonist for a novel, but since we have ten other pillars to cover in this online course for the year, we’ll just focus on the basics. Continue Reading…

Make Me Like Your Protagonist or I’ll Stop Reading

We’re continuing our look at the second corner pillar of novel constructionprotagonist with a goal. Last week we explored how our main character must have a visible goal, and paired with that plot goal is a spiritual one, which is tied closely with the character’s core need. Both goals are “resolved” at the climax of the novel.

Why do I say “resolved” instead of reached? Because the hero may fail to reach his goals—and that might be the point of your novel and your intent. You’re the author; you get to decide that. In a post-modern-style novel, a protagonist may not only fail to reach her goal, she may not change or learn from the ordeals she’s been through, which would be sad, but, hey—that’s life, right? And that could be the structure of a strongly built novel. It all depends on your theme and the take-home message you mean to leave with your reader. Continue Reading…

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