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.

(Craft) The Two Conflicts

2Stories that grip the heart often focus on two levels of conflict: internal and external.  The external conflict comes from forces outside the character. The internal conflict stems from forces within the character, usually experiences from the character’s past.

 The “two conflicts”, as I like to call them, engage in a dramatic dance throughout your story, moving your characters through your plot via tension, climax, and resolution. 

Both the internal and the external conflicts work hand in hand, one feeding off the other.  Yet, each is a separate story line in and of itself. But when the internal and external conflicts are intertwined in the fictional dream, the mathematical truism applies:  the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

When writing your story, create an external conflict for your character that will maximize his internal conflict, and vice versa.  Give equal weight to each conflict, realizing, however, that the internal drives the external every time.

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Photo Source: Microsoft Clipart

(Craft) The Five Elements of a Story

componentsEvery good story contains five key elements that are essential to sound fiction. These five elements are plot, character, conflict, theme, and setting.   

Plot is the action or the quest of your story. 

Character is the person (or persons) who carry out the action of your story.

Conflict is the struggle experienced by your character both internally and externally as she carries out the action of the story.

Theme is a core belief expressed through your story.

Setting is the backdrop against which your story happens.

In future posts, I will explore each of these essential elements in detail.

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Photo Source: Microsoft Clipart