I love Sundays. It’s the one day a week where I’m pretty much guaranteed a good long sleep in. I love waking up slowly, drowsing for a while, waking again, dozing off again… you get the idea. Most days the alarm goes off and I have to go from zero to sixty in just a few minutes. On Sundays, waking slowly, I find my mind wanders to whatever writing problem I haven’t had time to mull over properly. I find that long rise from sleep to waking leaves me in that middle ground, that dreamy but able to direct my thoughts stage that seldom presents itself otherwise. I find myself easing up to ah-ha moments about things in my stories that I sometimes didn’t even realize I was thinking about.
I’ve been struggling with a story for a long while now. I’ve written various versions of it, but it’s never quite worked. Yesterday, in that lovely long waking period, I realized that perhaps I was trying to tell the wrong person’s story. Maybe my protagonist isn’t really the character who drives the story. Maybe, if I tell the story from my major secondary character’s point of view the stakes will be higher, the conflict bigger, the story more compelling. Once I started thinking of the secondary character as my protagonist all kinds of plot ideas started flowing, complications started to arise, and suddenly I could see a possible set of turning points. The shape of the story started to coelesce out of the muddle in my head. I haven’t worked it all out yet, but my gut instinct is that I’m on to something here.
So, this week’s challenge is really more of question. How do you decide which character will be your protagonist? Do you dream up a cast of characters then audition each of them to see which one will serve best as your protagonist? Do you develope a character, then find a story to tell about that person? How can you tell when you have the right protagonist for the story, or, conversely, the right story for your protagonist?
I know there are a lot of folks peeking in to my challenges here without joining in the fun. Please, take a minute and share your experience. How do you know when you have the right protagonist?
Have a great writing week!
P.S. I’m not nearly so cute snoozing on a Sunday morning as Anna the wonder dog is!