Creating a Protagonist: Four Cardinal Questions

Today I discovered a blog that got me thinking on the topic of protagonists. If you’re turned off by (wanton and excessive) vulgar language, click not this link! For everyone else, click here:

The author, Chuck Wendig, describes 25 things you should know about protagonists. I found them all interesting, but when I saw this one I said, “Aha! Copy and paste!”

Number 8/25 says: When creating a protagonist, the four cardinal questions to ask are: Who is she? What does she want? What conflicts and/or fears are standing in her way? And what is at stake (stakes as in, what will be won or lost) if she fails?

This is great for us, because we have (or should have) clear and simple answers for all of these questions. Of course, we’re not writing protagonists; we aspire to be protagonists. So the questions need to be revised:

Who am I?
What do I want?
What conflicts and/or fears are standing in my way?
What is at stake if I fail?

Some quick answers…

Who am I? Read Catholic Missionary Identity!
What do I want? The renewal of the world!
What conflicts are standing in my way? Satan. Sin. Jet lag.
What is at stake if I fail? Salvation. Of. The. World.

I’d say we’ve got the raw material for a fascinating protagonist. Wanna be one?


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