Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Turning Your MC into a Hero
So how do I make my protagonist into a hero (especially when she's 17, living in the Bronx with an agoraphobic mother and isolated by a strange, unwelcome talent?) The first thing Maass says to do is to think of someone who is a hero to you. It might be your mother, or your best friend or a public person you admire. Don't be like me and get mired in thinking about it too much (yeah, he's okay, but he's like not perfect) You're not looking for perfection, you're looking for someone who you think did something heroic. I finally got mine (no, not telling you - too personal.) Then Maass says to come up with the one quality that makes that person a hero. That was a little easier: Courage.
But how do I find courage in a 17 year old girl who has not saved babies from burning buildings, or over come a crack addiction or survived a horrific incident? I won't lie, it was hard. I started with what I think is a Chekhov quote: "Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out."
How much courage would it take for a girl to lose her father, lose her ability to read and gain an disturbing talent - all at the age of twelve? Then, for the next five years, she would become a sort of surrogate for her mother, having to do everything for her mother, who could not leave the apartment. To me, that's heroic-sized courage.
Then I went back to the first few chapters and picked out areas where I could increase the examples of Mop's courage (again, small-c-courage, not save-babies-from-fire-courage.) I was surprised how easy it was. The opportunities were there, it was like I just had to turn up the volume. And by heightening those elements I could actually see how Mop became even more rounded, real. Damn this book is good.
How do you turn your protagonist into a hero?