Frodo has to destroy the one ring. The father in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road lives on only to keep his son alive. For Umberto Eco’s William of Baskerville in The Name of the Rose, it’s the importance of solving the series of murders that have engulfed the monastery.
Struggle is the core of every story. Struggle and conflict. Conflict with the way the world is and the way we want to world to be.
In an oft repeated quote from Gandhi, ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’
Our protagonists are often unwilling, unwitting and unprepared. They make mistakes. They are flawed people after all, mirroring a flaw or two that maybe we recognise in ourselves or others we know. They will frustrate us, even disappoint at times but as long as they stay the course they will never let us down.
How well defined is your protagonist’s struggle? Are the stakes high enough to fuel your story through to the end?
Each character will have their own agenda and here begins the possibilities for conflict and struggle. The writing journey will be about how you sometimes guide, sometimes drag kicking and screaming, and sometimes just stand back and let your characters work it out for themselves, so that resolution, be it good, bad or otherwise, is found.
Our characters must be agents for change because whatever is at stake it matters enough to them (and to you as the writer) to tell this story.