Daily Archives: June 11, 2015


“Returning to the Elements,” an article written by Jack Smith in last February’s THE WRITER, gave a review of several authors’ ideas about several of the basics of writing all of us are familiar with: Creating Your Protagonist, Managing Plot, Handling Point of View, Developing Setting, and Creating Dialogue.  Personally, he has written several books, including WRITE AND REVISE FOR PUBLICATION, and two satirical novels: HOG TO HOG and ICON.
He gathered ideas from several other authors, Catherine Ryan Hyde (of PAY IT FORWARD and 24 other novels) who led off the discussion on Protagonists.  She believes compelling protagonists “share two chief traits”: first, he or she needs to be someone with a strong enough “will to move forward through adversity,” and, second, needs to be “someone readers can relate to.”  It doesn’t harm to have your “relatable” character show some vulnerability either.  “We’re all vulnerable on the inside so our hearts go out to anyone enduring struggles we understand,” she says.
Oddly enough, she also points out protagonists “don’t necessarily have to be likeable or sympathetic,” though they do need “to be human.”  And how do we show the humanity?  “[G]et inside your character’s head” because that’s when the “humanity will begin to shine through.”
Is your protagonist . . .
moving with strength through adversity?  CHECK!
Relatable?  CHECK!
Likeable or not?  Doesn’t matter (though you should probably know).
Human?  CHECK!
And you know this by getting into his/her head?  CHECK!
GOOD JOB ! ! !

When it comes to writing, I am a perfectionist.  Nothing is ever good enough. The sentences are never tight enough, the structure is never solid enough, the pace is never steady enough. I have been known to spend an entire week on one paragraph.

But I wonder sometimes if my perfectionism is really just insecurity.  It’s a good line, saying that I’m a perfectionist when someone asks why I haven’t published yet.  It’s true that I’ve met with a few agents and editors and I’ve never actually been rejected, just asked to revise and resubmit.  But that revision…I can’t ever get it to a place where I can actually say I’m proud of it. I’ve never reached the point where I can say, “This is it.  This is as good as I can make it.” It’s always, “Something is wrong. I don’t know what it is, but something isn’t right.  I can’t show this yet, it needs work.” Then I spend months, no, at this point I’ve spent years trying to figure out what it is that’s wrong.

However, if I could be brave…if I could just be brave enough to show my writing to others as is…maybe they could help. Maybe these things that having me panicking could be fixed with a couple of sentences by someone much more talented than myself.

This is why a good critique group is so important. Finding those that can help, inspire, and keep you on a deadline is vital to success for people like me. If you’ve been struggling, a good critique group could be exactly what you need. And if you’re lucky enough to be heading to WIFYR this year (I’m so jealous!) then be on the lookout. Many phenomenal groups have been formed there.

FYI–I won’t be around next week. Not sure in Ann Dee will fill in or not.
So! I’m off to the conference!
Hope to see you there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized