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The Four Things Your Protagonist Needs In Your Story

I’ve been re-reading Screenplay by Syd Field lately as I gear up to write my first screenplay (I’m currently in the early developmental stages of it). Now that I know craft as well as I do, I love to read badass books on craft, because it really refines and clarifies and expands my current understanding of how stories work and how to write them.

Creating characters–and especially your Protagonist–is one of the big reasons why I love writing stories. I have a deep desire to understand the human mind and the human condition, and why people do and think the way they do.

And a story is nothing if not a study of the human condition.

But this is where a lot of fiction writers fall off track. Because while a story is about a character, that’s not the whole story. There’s so much more to it than that.

If you don’t know this or haven’t implemented it properly in your story, what you’ll end up with is an episodic narrative that gives the day-to-day account of a character’s life. Almost like a journal.

The reason it’s episodic narrative as opposed to an actual story is because there’s no definitive end point. You could just keep going, writing forever about what happens in the character’s life.

But that doens’t make it a story (OR a series of stories).

What makes it a story is that it has a character who wants something, another character who opposes what the other one wants, and a journey ensues toward a resolution.

And that’s just the starting point.

Your character needs to be three-dimensional, so they feel like a real person and are believable as a real person. Otherwise your reader won’t be able to empathize for them.

Without reader empathy your story is dead in the water.

As I’ve been reading Screenplay, I’ve loved gaining further clarity on creating a character–in this case, a Protagonist–and how to really bring them to life.

There are four essentials to creating a three-dimensional character and making them compelling and someone readers can empathize with.

1. Goal–this is what your Protagonist wants in the story. It’s the whole enchilada. This is the reason we’re even reading the story or watching the movie to begin with.

The main character has a goal and we want to watch and cheer them on as they go up against an Antagonist to achieve the goal (or have another goal introduced by the Antagonist, which then causes the character to have to overcome that before being able to achieve the initial goal).

2. Point of View–this is the internal landscape of the character. It’s what they believe about the world and themselves and their backstory. This is where you really have to go deep on what makes the person tick. And beliefs are the core of what makes up a person.

It’s true that what you believe you become, and the same thing works in fiction. So what beliefs does your Protatonist have and how has this shaped the way he sees the world and himself?

This is also where the character’s inner demon will come into play.

3. Attitude--this is the external aspects of your character. It’s how he presents himself to the world and the opinions that he holds. It’s his mannerism and way of being.

This is where you’ll figure out how your character acts or would act when presented with certain scenarios and situations.

4. Transformation–this is the overall change the Protagonist makes in the story. It’s when they’ve finally overcome their inner demon(s) and defeated the Antagonist.

This is the other thing a reader comes to a story for. To watch a character go through hell and come out victorious or at least changed for the better.

What transformation does your character make in your story? And how does that transformation stem from dealing with and overcoming the inner demon and Antagonist?

Creating compelling, interesting, engaging and empathetic characters is what will bring your story to life on the page. But you can’t just write a day-to-day account of their lives or even a specific time in their lives.

You have to write about a character with a specific need or goal they must achieve and the journey that ensues toward a resolution when another character steps into the story and tries to stop them from achieving the goal, or creates an entirely new goal for them to have to acheive before they can achieve the original one.

Do that and you’ll have yourself a story that’s actually worth reading.

Dream life or bust,

 

 

#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. I’m currently accepting new email story coaching private clients. Spaces are very limited. If you want to work privately with me to plan and develop the idea in your head into a fully fleshed out story plan that you can use to write your first draft–or you want to rework a story you wrote that’s not quite working yet–send me a PM right now and I’ll send you more info about how you can work with me.

You’ve Got To Throw Out “The Rules” and Write Them for Yourself

To me, living your dream life means being you, doing what you love, having freedom and living on your terms. To create that dream life, you must be willing to write your own rules.

And writing your own rules starts with digging up any old, limiting beliefs, especially unconscious ones, that are currently holding you back or keeping you stuck or creating a reality that you don’t want.

You may not think you have any limiting beliefs, but we all do. And many of them are unconscious, which means we’re sending these unconscious belief-signals out into the Universe every day… and that’s what’s coming back to us.

To figure out what unconscious beliefs you have, all you need to do is look around at your life and your current reality. What you see around you is what you’ve been unconsciously creating up ’til this point.

Here’s the hard part. Now you actually have to be brave enough to look around–and most importantly, look within–and put words to the unconscious beliefs you currently have. The good and the bad.

For example, a few years ago I made a realization: somehow everything always works out for me.

I’d be running late for work, but then I’d get there and my boss would be running even later and never found out I was late. I needed money for something unexpected and somehow the money would show up. I got to the restaurant for dinner and someone would be backing out and leaving their front-row spot, just as I was getting there.

From this I made the discovery that I have an unconscious belief (a GREAT one!) that everything always works out in my favor. Somehow over the course of my life, through things people told me and what I experienced, I created this belief. And it has served me very, very well in my life.

But what about when you find an unconscious belief that’s been wreaking havoc on your life?

For example, from a very young age, I was programmed with the belief that I’m not good enough. This came from various things that happened to me during my childhood–getting bulled by my older cousins who I looked up to, my parents’ divorce, bullying from other kids at my babysitter’s house and all through my school years. From those experiences, I created an unconscious belief that I wasn’t good enough.

And that belief was unconsciously creating my life. It kept me from trying out for parts that I wanted in the school plays, it made me pretend to be someone I’m not, and it made me self-sabotage when I did get an opportunity to shine.

Thankfully I had a whole bunch of other empowering beliefs that balanced out the bad ones, but until I was conscious of the fact I had a deep-seeded belief that I wasn’t good enough, it continued to create negativity in my reality.

Once I was fully conscious of it, I was able to do something about changing it. So I started to plant new beliefs in my mind, ones that actually support me in achieving my goals and the success that I want.

That’s what it means to write your own rules. You get to choose your beliefs that you hold, that you live by and that create your life. Because your beliefs, thoughts, perspective and actions are what has been creating your reality up to this point.

But if you want to create your dream life and have everything you’ve ever wanted, it starts with giving yourself permission to change the limiting beliefs–conscious and unconscious–that you’ve had programmed in you all these years, and also to drop and ignore anything you’ve been told to think or believe that doesn’t feel good to you.

Permission is everything here. Because until you fully give yourself permission you’ll never make the change. You’ll continue to operate your life from these beliefs, telling yourself that you “have to” because that’s what society says or what your mom says or what your spouse says or whatever you’re telling yourself.

I know it’s hard. It is. It really is.

Changing an entire belief system; shifting your entire perspective and all the thoughts you’ve had your whole life; it can be scary. Those old beliefs and old ways of being are very comfy. And it feels good to be comfy, kind of.

But not in the way that feeling good could feel if it was coming from a place of excitement and purpose, rather than a place of fear and comfort.

It’s been said that people only change out of necessity or severe pain. But you don’t have to wait ’til that point. You don’t have to get to the end of your rope before you do something different.

You can choose right now to be inspired into changing. To be motivated by possibiilty and empowered by new beliefs, thoughts and ways of being.

You can make this choice every single day, and you’ll have to, until it becomes a habit for you to think and believe this way.

A few years ago, I heard an Abraham-Hicks quote that stuck with me so much I painted it onto a canvas and hung it on the wall in my living room. And every day, I try to remember this quote. It’s absolutely life-changing. It was when I first heard it and it still is today, maybe even more so because I now understand success mindset even better now than I did back then.

And that quote, is… a belief is just a thought you keep thinking.

A belief is just a thought you keep thinking. A BELIEF is JUST A THOUGHT that you KEEP THINKING.

A belief is just a thought that YOU keep thinking.

Really take that one in. It will totally transform your entire belief system and your life along with it.

You hold the power. You get to decide. Life does not happen to you, you create it with your beliefs and your thoughts and your actions. Yes, bad stuff does happen sometimes. And that bad stuff is often unconsciously created by a limiting or negative belief you hold that, unfortuantely, you didn’t know about.

But the silver lining of the bad thing is that you can use it to identify any unconscious beliefs you do have, so you can shift them and create a new belief that supports you in creating the things you actually do want to have happen in your life.

You create your reality. You. No one else can create it for you. Your energy is always what attracts what you see in your reality.

And your energy starts with your beliefs.

Negative beliefs have a magnetism for negative thoughts, actions, situations and people. Whereas positive, empowering beliefs have a magnetism for positive thoughts, actions, situations and people.

That’s just how energy works.

So it’s your responsibility to guard your energy, to protect it and to feed it with positive, uplifting beliefs and thoughts that will support you in creating your dream life, whatever that may mean or look like for you.

Dream life or bust,

 

 

#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. Doors to my Writer’s Confidence Boost eCourse are opening later tonight!! And because confidence is SO important when it comes to achieving success as a writer and creator, I’m offering this at a ridiculous price that anyone can afford. Stay tuned for more details…

And if you’re not already on my email list, get on it right now so you’re the first to know when the Writer’s Confidence Boost eCourse is available. Go here to join my email list and get a free copy of my eBook, The Bestselling Author Mindset Formula: www.jenniferblanchard.net/newsletter