Tuesday, February 2, 2016
A Hero’s (protagonist’s) Worthy Goal
Taking time out to put something simple and basic out there for the writers who join us here – readers too who enjoy getting a peek into the writer’s world and just what goes into a good read. What a writer wrestles with to come up with that eyeball-grabbing story that keeps a reader up half the night because the book just can’t be put down.
It’s plainly written above. It’s very basic. Is the goal that’s been set for the hero of the story a worth y goal. And by that I mean, there are lots of things a hero can strive to achieve. BUT choosing the right one, the one with the right outside motivation, can be tricky and can require a lot of thought on the part of the writer. Is it a big enough goal? Is it a goal that is worthy of the hero?
It sounds pretty direct, but without thinking about it, deep down, the reader is automatically asking questions while the story unfolds. Does that goal set for the hero fulfill a basic human need? Safety and security? Love? Belonging? Physiological? Some fulfillment of self-esteem?
Why are we all looking for that element? Well, it reminds readers of their own goals and desires, then draws them into the story to find out whether the hero does attain his goals and desires, and if so, how.
Another question regarding that worthy goal is, is it logical and attainable? Really, if one is wrapped up in a story, there is little worse than the exclamation, “that doesn’t make sense!” or seeing through a paper-thin plot and knowing deep down that this guy couldn’t really accomplish that goal no matter how willingly the reader dives into the pool of suspended disbelief. If that happens the writer has lost the reader. Not good.
The next test is does the hero have an emotional attachment to the goal? Is he or she passionate about achieving whatever it is whether it is saving the life of a puppy, preventing a bank robbery or curing cancer? The protagonist absolutely must be passionate; must have a soul-deep motivation for plunging into whatever circumstance follows. If the attitude is a wimpy, it’ll be nice if I can achieve it, then the reader follows the same path, doesn’t care and gives up on the story.
Related to the emotional attachment is the question, what happens if the Hero doesn’t succeed? What’s at stake? Does the world explode? Is a child’s life at stake? Will an evil force succeed? Will a ship sink at sea? If he doesn’t get back in time to donate a kidney will his wife die?
There has to be a powerful motivating factor and hit has to be real to the reader. It puts a lot of pressure on the writer. See, readers, see what you do to all those slaving writers out there?
And at the same time, readers motivate writers to always improve, to come up with the next fascinating, exciting, dramatic, love-filled tale of adventure, success, mourning or joy.
Readers keep reading and the writers will keep writing. That’s a given.