Whether a manuscript crosses an editor’s desk, or is loaded onto an e-reader, readers will read on if the author invents characters in which they’re invested.
Intention vs Reaction.
There are a lot of ways to do that—resonance, unique situations, careful plotting–but the clear path most often missed in the manuscripts I read, is “protagonist’s choice, not reaction.”
It’s easy to miss opportunities for the protagonist to make choices.
Events happen in Act 1 that feel strong enough knock the protagonist into Act 2. But, it doesn’t matter how perilous or unique the events we devise for a story may be, if the hero is simply reacting to events, then we don’t have an engaging character.
Events force choices.
Those choices should be grindingly difficult for the protagonist to make. In this way, the same events that provoked mere reaction in a first draft, create satisfying character development in a second draft. And the reader reads on.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career.
Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and is Senior Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.
If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume, here.
Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.