Be the Protagonist

At the close of this year leading into the next, I wanted to share a thought with all the creative people I know and that is: Be The Protagonist.

Protagonists *do* things. Other people might sit and wonder, worry and scheme, debate or ignore or act as the foil or comic relief, but the main character of your story--the one we root for--is a "do-er" who goes out and changes not only the situation or the scene that s/he's in, but ultimately, is the one that is changed. Protagonists transform from Who They Were Before into Who They Are Today. That is the instigating action that changes the characters, and not always in the most comfortable of ways, pushing beyond the comfortable limits and creating adventure out of the everyday. That's the story arc. That is plot. That's the character journey. And that only happens in action, using lots of verbs, and the same is true in your life as a writer.


Imagine you were writing a story about a writer (especially if you're struggling to write it): as an author, think "What would that writer do?" How would you show (not tell) that this person is a writer? Well, for one thing, they would write. That is how we, the reader, would know that they are a writer. We'd see them sitting and writing, scribbling on notepads or typing in cafes or hunkered down in front of their computer at home writing words. They would read books on research and craft, talk with other writer friends, or think about random things that reminded them about this character or that scene throughout the narrative. They would be obsessed with writing this one next bit and stay up late at night or get up extra early to get that writing done. They would be constantly captured in the act of writing because, as we all know, that's what writers do.

Because that *IS* what writers do. They write.

Protagonists also overcome adversity. There is always some challenge that stands in their way of getting to their goal (the one they imagine that they want or the one they end up wanting). They will try and fail, try something else and partially succeed, learn something new and use that knowledge to pull off one more maneuver which will *spectacularly* fail, forcing the protagonist out onto the figurative or literal edge of a cliff, where seemingly all is lost, forcing that person to dig deep into the recesses of who they are or what they stand for to perform one, last, desperate make-or-break attempt and finally succeed (in one way or another) based on their own inner strength and with the help of some of the lessons and friends they've collected along the way. Ta da! Good story!

So my wish for you, as a writer, is to star in your own good story. Be the protagonist. Go out and DO THINGS! Make this year be about overcoming obstacles, being in action, use lots of verbs to describe your life and the way you're living it, collect those friends and life lessons that will help you along the way to achieving your goals, whatever they are, and becoming Who You Will Be in 2013. I can't promise it will be comfortable or convenient, or when you look back you'll be the same person you were when you struck out to take on your goal, but if you are in action and being a cause in the matter of your own personal story--not just thinking about it, but doing it--then you will change and the story of your life will be richer because of it.

Be the protagonist in your own life. Write it down. Tell us about it. Because we think you'd make a pretty damned good story.

Here's to you and me and every good book out there: Happy New Year!

All the best,



2 Responses to “Be the Protagonist”

  1. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and
    said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She
    placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside
    and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

  2. Dawn Metcalf says:

    Actually, if you read a certain scene in INDELIBLE (and another in INVISIBLE) this is *totally* on topic! *hint hint*

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