Saturday, April 4, 2009

Action => Reaction

Here's a lesson I've learned from writing: no one likes a passive protagonist. We could have observant narrators in ye olden classics, but in modern stories editors want heroes who do stuff.
Exceptions to the rule can occur, however; Countess de Winter from Rebecca remains pretty passive throughout the novel, but she does do stuff.
That leads us to the reluctant hero, who doesn't want to handle the responsibility handed out to them. I love reluctant heroes, especially the ones that fail to do the job right sometimes. (Case in point: Peter Parker as Spiderman.) We all say that something must be done, but only true heroes do stuff when confronted with it. And even those heroes may continue to make the same mistakes, as we do.
"Sugar and Spice," which will be submitted to a magazine this week, started out as a short story exercise with a passive narrator. Then I made the narrator more active, but he didn't do enough. (Also, the editors didn't relate to him or his best friend, since they were careless.)
I just rewrote the story from another perspective, from a character who does a lot more and is more human than his companions. This sixth draft needs more polishing, but when it's softened I am sure that it will find a magazine.