I need a catalyst for my fearful main character to become bold and daring.

Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by khuneycu, Feb 14, 2017.

  1. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    But this is the problem I have with these 0-100 character arcs. If you have spent your whole life being timid and hiding away, then you are probably going to be utterly useless even when you lose your timidity, because you have never trained in anything useful. Incompetent characters are kinda tedious. You need people who are able enough to at least move the plot forward.
     
  2. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    This also rings very true. Part of my MC's journey involves a fire- she runs into the fire to try to save her father. Not because she is particularly brave, but because she didn't stop to think about the consequences, and of course, the desire to save a loved one. A lot of my own personal self-doubt stems from overthinking things. I find that if I act before I over-analyze, I am more likely to be bold.
     
  3. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    I agree and disagree on different levels here.

    In a literal, real world level, yes, it is as you say.

    But in Kara's case, I suppose it'd be more accurate to say that her fear of losing her friend overpowered anything else. In the heat of the moment, she had developed tunnel vision and she didn't think about anything but treating the injury.
     
  4. tristan.n

    tristan.n Active Member

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    Absolutely, but it wouldn't negate them completely. The fears would still be there. For me, if I had to give emergency first aid to someone, here's what would go through my mind: 1. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod 2. Do I help him? Is anyone else around? Is there time to get someone who can do it better? Nope, it's just me. 3. Okay I think I stopped the bleeding and crap he's going into shock--should I lay him down? Should I elevate his legs or is that bad? Crap, I can't remember. I've got to do something, though! I can't just stand here thinking about it!. 4. (Go into full-blown nurse Tristan mode)

    I should probably mention that I'm definitely not a nurse, and the sight of blood makes me very pale and queasy.

    I've had to do this sort of thing before, in the field I work in. I was outwardly calm and did everything right, but my hands trembled, my adrenaline was through the roof, and I questioned myself every step of the way, followed quickly by "well, whatever I do is better than just standing here." Afterwards I was proud of myself and thought that if that happened again, I would be more prepared, less uncertain of myself, and hopefully less shaky.

    My point is that I (and probably several other people) will identify with a character who overcomes his/her fears not through sheer bravado, but in spite of whatever is holding him/her back. It's more page-turning suspenseful to me if the main character isn't certain of victory.
     
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  5. Willoby

    Willoby New Member

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    I think it should be a guy. She meets someone who surprisingly makes her happy and bends the rules. She falls in love and finds out what living really is. Than he goes to this forbidden place and she goes after him, or he breaks her heart and she decides to find herself by doing something crazy.
     
  6. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    @Willoby I'd have said a crush rather than a guy, several authors here write same sex couples.
     
  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    One other thing to consider. Is she choosing to 'step out' and try something outside her comfort zone? Or is she forced by circumstances? I think there's a lot of difference between voluntarily leaving a 'safe' world behind, and leaving a situation that is no longer safe.

    I've known both kinds of people.

    There are timid people who are forced, by circumstances beyond their control, to do something they've never done before. They don't jump. They need a push. Sometimes a big push. They will perhaps do well enough 'out there,' as they discover strengths and talents they didn't know they had. However their tendency to cower will often return as soon as they come to another safe spot. Then they're scared of losing THAT spot of safety, and will work very hard to stay there without ever moving again.

    Think about them as somebody who, for example, is faced with either losing a job they love or learning to work a computer because the job now requires it. They'll be the last one on board, scared shitless, convinced they 'can't,' and they either will or won't learn the skill. They might end up being quite good at the computer, but it'll take a lot of pushing, prodding and threatening to get them there.

    They find it difficult to acquire confidence. They often think that any success is a 'one-off' thing that is just down to luck, or to other people helping them. They don't want to face ever having to leave their comfort zone again. God help them when the computer system needs an upgrade and acquires a new interface.

    I have one of these kinds of people in my close family. It's a very hard attitude to shift. Impossible, even. I've been trying for over 60 years, to no avail. I remember trying to persuade her to read some new book, instead of constantly re-reading her old books, but her response would inevitably be, 'but what if I don't like it?' Eventually she would read the book, and then it would become a favourite that she would re-read IT constantly. Rinse and repeat. She is really terrified of trying anything new. She's convinced she 'can't do it,' or won't like it, and when she does eventually take it on, under pressure, she sees that as having done enough ...whew. It never gives her the confidence to do something else off her own bat. She is a lovely person, one of my very favourite people, but her life has been hamstrung by her timidity.

    That's different from a timid person who decides, for whatever reason, that enough is enough, she's tired of being timid and mistreated/overlooked, and opts to take a chance and make her own way in the world. This person learns that failure doesn't mean 'stop.' It means 'try again.' Usually people who know THIS person are surprised (or even shocked), but pleased at the change in their personality.

    While either person could be your protagonist, I know which one I would find the most interesting to follow in a story.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
  8. tristan.n

    tristan.n Active Member

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    It seems like this sort of scenario is fairly common, especially in YA. I'd be more inclined to root for a character who does something for reasons outside of romantic interest(s).
     
  9. Hmt321

    Hmt321 New Member

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    eventully even the meek get to the point where they lash out.

    Push her to the breaking point and then have her push back, use what ever strengths she has, and exploit weaknesses in her advisories.

    I love stories that show growth through hardship.
     
  10. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    Does it have to happen all at once? Sometimes, a person discovers who they really are as they take a certain path. I love history, and that can be a gold mine for such characters. A young man wanted to be fighter pilot. Sucked at it. Become recon. Wanted to become a bomber pilot. Again, sucked at it. But, this time, refused to transfer, so, they kept recycling him through bomber school. After several recycles, something clicked, and suddenly he could fly the airplane. Graduated. Went to a front line unit. The commander remember training with him, and refused to let him fly. After severe loses, he was allowed to fly and became the greatest bomber pilot of the war.
    Guess that a really long worded way of saying, maybe part of your story should be your character falling and rising until they become that hero that no one saw coming; no even themselves. Biographies are a great source of real life turning points, even if those turning points turn out to be really, really long curves in the road.
     
  11. Sigma Zed

    Sigma Zed Active Member

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    As a therapist at a mental hospital, I find that most clients won’t change unless they have a willingness to. The trick is to find that willingness. Things that I find cause people to change are: loss of loved ones, constantly being disappointed by the same outcome with the same input, a desire to get out of captivity, a near death experience, recovering from an illness or regaining the use of their limbs, meeting someone who motivates and inspires them, and being forced to rise to the occasion by an outside force. Also, being beaten or out done by someone who’s better over and over again can change someone. Perhaps in some strange way even, finding out that the universe is a cold, uncaring place, and has no remorse or sympathy toward humanity could possibly change someone’s thinking in that they have to do it themselves and not let circumstance lead them.

    Oh, and love is a huge motivator. Kind of cliché and over done, but it’s there, it’s cheap, and everyone loves it.

    Something that may help also is look to your life and see what made you change your actions or demeanor. Think of times when your friends or family changed their modus operandi and what caused it.

    Good luck!
     
  12. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Winning is defined by not how many people you knock down, but how many times you get up after being knocked down
     

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