Ask readers to list the top five reasons that will cause them to walk away from a book, and one of them is guaranteed to be a protagonist they can’t get behind, often one who doesn’t fight for his goal. This is because we all want a hero who fights with all his heart for what he desires, who doesn’t give up in the face of obstacles where others would.
One day last fall as I was teaching a writing class for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at FSU, the fire alarm went off. I glanced at the clock and knew that with only 40 minutes remaining, we would miss the rest of the lesson by the time the building was cleared and we were allowed back in. The students sighed and grabbed their stuff, but as we headed out, a woman said, “Couldn’t you just bring your notes outside?”
So, five minutes later, amid the fire truck’s running engines and the wail of the building’s alarm, we continued learning about narrators and point of view, with students leaning forward to hear and balancing notebooks on their knees. Not a single person left.
I was so inspired. Each of those writers was a protagonist worth cheering for.
You can also be the hero in your journey with writing, the author who works through all obstacles. Start today by turning off the phone and ignoring email during your writing time. Maybe tomorrow, you’ll be able to ignore the wobble in the table or block out the neighbor’s barking dog.
If you would like to learn more about writing to help you overcome other obstacles, and you live in the Tallahassee area and are above the age of 50, I will be teaching two six-week classes this spring for OLLI.
- Introduction to Writing Fiction and Memoir – a class for people who are new to writing
- Extending Your Skills – a continuation of the Developing Your Skills class I have taught the last two semesters
Learn more about these and other OLLI classes here.
And just remember, if the fire alarm goes off, take your notebook with you.