Sunday, 20 April 2014
Day Twenty: Be Cruel to Your Protagonist #BYBin30
You know everything there is to know about your protagonist. You know what drives them, what haunts them, and what they love. You know everything about their past and everything about their present, and you even have a good idea of what their future will be. The problem is, you might like you protagonist too much to do what is necessary to keep the tension high in your book. You might feel reluctant to have horrific things happen to your protagonist, but without those awful events, your protagonist's story is going to drag.
Your readers need to like your protagonist too, and their fondness for your protagonist is what is going to keep them completely tangled up in your protagonist's story. If nothing really terrible happens to your protagonist, your readers might not read on, because they are not as concerned about your protagonist as you want them to be. If you make it clear in your writing of the story that nothing too bad could possibly happen to your protagonist and a happy ending is already a foregone conclusion, your readers will lose their need to read further and all of the impetus of the story will be lost.
Your protagonist needs to be put through hell. Bad things need to happen to your protagonist. None of those bad things will seem fair, and, although your protagonist may find their way through some of them before the end of the book, more should come your protagonist's way. You want to make their life miserable, no matter how unfair it all seems, and they need to fight back against all of the horrible things that are thrown at them. No one likes a whiny protagonist, so if your protagonist, at any point, feels dejected and hopeless, give them a reason to keep going and to not give up.
Keep upping the stakes. Make the results if your protagonist fails be even more disastrous as the story continues. If your protagonist defeats the antagonist or overcomes all of the obstacles in the story too soon, your readers will have no reason to keep reading. If you can't find a way to keep the stakes up for any longer, than maybe your story is a novelette instead of a full novel. Take away all hope and then find a way to give your protagonist a reason to hope again.