What Does Your Protagonist Desire?
Taking a page from Abbie Emmons, our Writing Circle tackled figuring out what our protagonists want or the thing they believe will make them happy. Each protagonist within the story needs an answer as well as each antagonist and villain.
One of our writers, Maria, introduced us to Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody and the concepts that fit within the scope of our Hero’s Journey templates and story embryos. Within the first several pages, Save the Cat also covers this exact concept of the hero’s desire.
“It’s not enough for your hero just to have flaws; your hero has to want something and is proactively trying to get it. Giving your protagonist a goal and having them pursue that goal is the fastest way to get your reader to root for your hero and latch onto your story” (Brody). Asking what your character wants in life and then using something generic like, “My character wants to be happy,” is not enough. “Happiness” is too illusive, like trying to define “love” to a robot. Brody suggests that you use something more concrete, “something tangible that the reader can keep track of and root for” (Brody).
This next question the author asked was a thinker: “And speaking of your hero getting what they want: Why haven’t they?” It’s not that all characters get exactly what they want, the story is about their pursuit of it. “When a hero wants something, it sets them in motion. It gets them off their butt and into the action, which is exactly where we want them to be” (Brody).