As I start to write a new novel, I ask myself: Who is at the center of my novel? Is he/she a hero, or a villain?
In The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass, says: “Every protagonist can be a hero, even from the opening pages. That quality is essential if readers are to tag along with your main character for hundreds of pages.”
I hadn’t thought of making any of my protagonists heroes, just characters showing us how they deal with and learn from their difficult life experiences. Maass also says, “you need only find in your human being what is strong, and in your strong human what is real. Even greatness can be signaled from the onset.”
That sounds good, but I wondered how do you find your protagonist’s strength?
Step one: It depends on how you created him/her! Depending on the personality they have, you can find any kind of strength, even something small. Ex. Caring about someone, a longing for hope or change.
Step two: Provide a way for that strength to be demonstrated within your protagonist’s first five pages.
Step three: Revise your character’s introduction to your readers so they feel this story is worth their time, that it will greatly stir and impact your readers and stay with them.
It has taken me a while to determine my protagonists strength, but I think I’m getting closer to showing it in the first five pages.
Have you had success with finding and showing your protagonist’s strength in the first five pages? Any tips you wish to share?
Last week I signed my first contract to purchase a foreclosed home in Ambridge, Pennsylvania! The bank’s listing agent is asking $13,900, and I negotiated the price to $13,300. The closing will be in October, and I’m so exited to tear everything out and give the house the attention it needs. I’m sure there will be numerous unexpected challenges that may try my sanity, but it will be worth it when it’s done.
Sometimes you just need to let go and take a chance at something you didn’t plan to. My family and I were on vacation in Branson, Missouri last week. Because of my spine degeneration, where the vertebrae continue to thin, I let my husband and kids ride Go Carts while I took pictures to avoid being hit from other drivers.
The next day we went back, and I impulsively decided to take a chance and ride in one. This time my husband wanted to take pictures of us, and as we waited in line for our turn, I fretted about the risk I was about to take.
As the cars came back to the starting point, I tensed as each one tapped the car in front of it, causing the person to jerk forward. My neck and back hurt just watching it. The last car parked and the employee let everyone exit, and it occurred to me that I could be that last car. If I stayed way to the right side of the track, it would decrease my chances of getting hit.
So that’s what I did. This track wound its way several stories and then sped down two hills, so it helped keep the cars away from me, and sure enough, I was the VERY last car to return. Although I stayed away from the other drivers, I was proud of myself for doing it.
Sometimes my faith and resilience are challenged in VERY unexpected ways. Last spring my then fourteen-year-old son revealed a hidden pain and struggle, along with some terrible decisions that broke my heart and left me with self-doubt and guilt.
Because, seriously, how could I NOT have known this whole other side of him? I knew he had the typical teenage angst that comes with finding his way in this world, but this was a whole other level. He was at a therapeutic ranch in the middle of Texas for seven months.
Last week my twelve-year-old son, who is what doctors call a high functioning autistic boy, left the house while he was supposed to be taking a shower after a day of swimming. When my husband found him at our local park and walked home with him, I reminded him that because he left without asking either my husband or I if he could go first, he was grounded. He usually yells about us not understanding how he is allowed to do what he wants, but not this time.
This time he snapped and hit my husband and then threatened to kill us. I called 911 and when the cops came over, he became violent with them and my husband and I feared he would be taken to Juvenal Detention, especially when the cop placed handcuffs on my son and put him in the back of the patrol car. Fortunately he went to a local psychiatric hospital where he is being evaluated for a medicine change.
My family and I went to visit him tonight and he doesn’t seem to understand why we “sent him there.” My heart hurts for him and prays that we can help him to the best of our ability.
I’m grateful for my faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ. He knows me, loves me, and atoned for my sins. He’s felt my despair, confusion, and pain. He knows how to help me and my family overcome our unique challenges, and for that, I’m my heart is full of faith.