Your Protagonist’s Inner Journey

It is a fictional truism to say that the best stories are character-driven.  Starting with this premise, let’s look at how we can make our protagonist–whether hero or heroine–one who will stand out forever in the memory of your readers. 

When creating your protagonist, it is essential that you give her an inner conflict. This inner conflict results from an issue the character has, an issue about which she may not even be aware.  But the issue is there, nonetheless, keeping your protagonist from fulfilling her destiny in your story. Unless she faces her issue and deals with it, the issue will eventually “break” her. The story is the protagonist’s process of facing her issue. This process, also known as the character arc, will force her either to deal with her issue or to miss her destiny. 

In his excellent book, The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, novelist and editor Jeff Gerke states: “If great fiction is about bringing the main character to a breaking point over a particular ‘sin,’ then all the events of the story are about bringing the character to that moment” (p. 76). 

With what “sin” is your protagonist dealing? Bring your character to an emotionally powerful breaking point over that sin, and watch your fiction move up a notch on the scale of excellence.

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Source Cited:

Gerke, Jeff. The Art & Craft of Writing Christian FictionColorado Springs, CO: Marcher Lord Press, 2009. Print.

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2 thoughts on “Your Protagonist’s Inner Journey

  1. I agree, and this is a great topic: permitting the reader an up-close-personal sense of the protagonist’s inner conflict creates the suspense and increases the reader’s interest. Sue Grafton’s main character Kinsey Millhone is the result of her sad childhood which keeps intruding into her mature personality and in a myriad of witty mannerismes; likewise, Michael Connelly’s infamous main charcter, Harry Botsch, creates his own problems, conflicts and situations from a maladjusted past, and his ensuing decisions are often questionable but noble. I think this is the key to fiction.