On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Your Protagonist is Afraid of Repeating Something

Your protagonist often has an unhealed source of continuing pain: a wound that occurred before the story began, or perhaps in the prologue. If present, this wound is undeserved. It can be from a single event or, more commonly, an extended situation, and it often occurs during childhood. Because of this wound, your protagonist has fought at great cost to overcome his circumstances from the wound, but he is afraid it may happen again. For example, a character growing up dirt-poor who has "made it" at Wall Street may be deathly afraid of losing his money.

Because of his fear, your protagonist has developed a protective identity that helps him to manage life. This identity is how your character sees himself, and he clings to it in order to define himself to others. Identity can be comprised of age, gender, belief system, job, family—whatever your character thinks is necessary to describe who he is.

A good way to specifically articulate the character’s identity is to explore what the character would not do, or the types of feelings he would not admit to, if it meant he’d have to give up his identity.

Take some time to explore who your protagonist thinks he is. What does he need to keep doing to advance his life in the way it is going? What sorts of thoughts or actions would he never do?

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