Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Active characters

There's a certain story pattern that I'm becoming more disenchanted with: the character who fights all sources of help and has to be dragged out of trouble or isolation by the repeated efforts of other characters. We all need a helping hand from time to time; we all benefit from those who reach out to us. Occasionally we will push away those who could help us. But at some point, a character who is going to grow will have to grab the helping hand, or seek it out. And secondary characters should not wait around forever for that moment, with endless patience and persistence, as if they have no lives of their own.

A character who is actively trying to help him/herself is also easier to root for. (Or a character who at least wants help, even if s/he doesn't know how get it, or has to fight off inner voices counseling a more self-destructive route.)


  1. I take it these types of characters could be labeled 'too stubborn for their own good'? =) And you're right, that's a story pattern that is very easy to fall out of like with.

    1. Yeah, if they can't reach for the life preserver because there's a shark swimming in the way, that's one thing. But if they just WON'T reach for the life preserver, I start to get annoyed.

  2. Ha! I wouldn't be reaching for the life preserver. B/c I'm pretty sure if I was ever in the water w/a shark, I'd have fainted dead away. Sharks freak me out!

  3. I think I know the type you're talking about. And since the hero typically has to go it alone at the end, where's the growth/change if he/she has been doing it that way all along?