Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Those Stubborn Protagonists

I am continuing to struggle with my protagonist who, it seems, simply doesn't want to be the person I've laid her out to be. I have her cast at the beginning of the story as a fairly self-conscious teenager who, by the end of the tale, has grown into a self-confident leader. The problem is that she simply doesn't want to be self-conscious! That girl has a smart mouth on her, and she's not afraid to use it, particularly when she is with the antagonist (whom she can't stand but will eventually fall in love with -- just before she blows him up).

Now, normally, I don't have a problem with this. As I've said before, half the joy of writing is letting your characters grow and tell their own tales. The writer is as entertained as the reader! But in this case, I think the story loses some of its power if we don't see this maturity develop in the protagonist. Actually, I think the story loses a significant amount of power, and that's why I'm worried about it. I've written out the controlling idea, as McKee recommends, and based on that, it shouldn't really matter if she is already self-confident or not, but my gut still tells me that this is an important facet, even if it isn't the main facet.

So, the question is do I force her into her early role and let events cause her to mature, or do I let her be herself from the beginning? I've always trusted my characters to develop as they are "meant" to, so I'm leaning towards the latter, but I still can't shake the feeling that I'm losing something as a result. I'm not going to go back and change what I've written just yet, so maybe I'll be able to compare approaches. I do like her as a person better now than as she was originally -- she's a lot funnier. We'll just have to see how it all turns out.

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