Tag Archive - protagonist

The Intersection of Character Transformation and Moral Dilemma

The protagonist’s transformational journey is highlighted in countless stories, whether novels, movies, or plays. If you take time to examine some of your favorite stories, you should be able to identify key scenes or moments in which this transformation gradually takes place. It’s the events that transpire that erode the persona and emphasize to the character that living in that identity isn’t working.

People don’t change overnight; it’s a process. And when we write a story, we want that process to be believable. While there are six stages in the process, you might have a dozen or more scenes in which your character’s beliefs, opinions, and biases are challenged, one bit at a time.

What Theme Really Is

Keep in mind this truth: the theme of your story is your character’s inner motivation made universal. What drives him, what plagues him, what consumes him is what propels him toward the visible goal.

These key transformational scenes with your protagonist are the ones that will shine a light on the themes of your story.

Consider the movie Hostiles, which I explored in another post. The title itself implies the theme and poses the moral dilemma Capt. Blocker faces. Who truly is the hostile?

The question Blocker asks himself, essentially, is this: “How am I all that different from those I hate?” In asking that question, consciously or subconsciously, the theme is brought to the forefront. Continue Reading…

Getting to Know Your Protagonist

 Today’s guest post is by Steven-John Tait.

If you’ve ever struggled to get under the skin of your protagonist, don’t lose hope. This post tells how mine went from a protagonist I couldn’t relate to to someone so real to me that I felt guilty about finishing the novel and therefore his existence.

Here’s my experience from initial inspiration to the creative processes I used, and my eventual breakthrough and tips you can apply to your own work.

On vacation in a town in North Brazil, I was drinking a beer at one of many beachside bars, when I noticed a haggard man walking between the tables and chairs trying to catch anyone’s eye. It was obvious he was looking for someone to take advantage of. Nobody returned his gaze except me.

He sat down across from me and asked the waiter for a beer and a cachaça. The waiter looked to me for approval because we both knew that I’d be the one paying. I couldn’t understand much of what my guest said because my Portuguese hardly gets me from A to B, but he interested me, as did the faded tattoos over his arms and the white lines he’d drawn on himself using acid from cashew nut shells. Continue Reading…

Why Your Protagonist  Should Have a Past “Wound”

Last week I introduce the idea that writers need to know some important things about their protagonist before starting to write their scenes. Some writers hardly develop their characters at all, and it shows. Their scenes are populated with stereotypes that have no depth or uniqueness.

Conversely, spending hours or weeks penning long descriptions of characters’ physical attributes, food preferences, or general likes and dislikes won’t ensure memorable characters will result.

The first thing—which we looked at in last week’s post—that’s essential to consider about your protagonist is his motivation. And this attribute, like all the others we’re going to look at in this series of posts, points to your premise. And that premise centers on the protagonist’s goal.

So, if everything you consider about your characters orbits around the premise and the goal, you’ll be on your way to crafting great characters. Continue Reading…

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