09 November 2006

NaNo – Day 9 Walking a Tightrope, Sword in Hand

The scene has been set, the problem introduced, what's left for the protagonists? Why, upping the ante of course. Sure, the two protagonists each have a rather weighty problem on their hands, but since when has one problem ever been enough?

It's an interesting balance trying to pile on the angst without perturbing the reader. On one hand you want to generate sympathy for the protagonist, on the other, you want them constantly on the verge of losing control. It has to be real without being over the top. I've thrown a few books across the room for making unbelievable leaps of logic.

In response, I spend a lot of time puzzling out whether the actions of the protagonist are reasonable under the circumstances. If not, then I need to make them plausible for the reader. If my protagonist is not an expert rider or of the military, riding a camel for days on end is bound to make her sore and cranky. I need to build that into the narrative. Plausibility. Can she learn to wield a sword with reasonable skill in a few months? I know I can look mighty pretty doing sword kata in karate, but if forced to use a sword for defense? For real? I'm screwed.

What's realistic for the character? Depends on the boundaries you set from the beginning. If I make my protagonist fairly athletic, smart, and driven, I could reasonably expect her to be able to wield a light sword long enough to inflict some damage. Not much, maybe enough to allow her time for what's really important. Running away. Living to fight another day. The problem with that is, protagonists are horribly short sighted. When the goal is within reach they tend to drive forward, practicalities be damned. Which is why, in a fair fight, you bet on the villain. All things being equal, antagonists have one advantage on their side the protagonist always forgets about and the writer would do well to remember.

They cheat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lol, my protags cheat, too.

With the exception maybe of Roderic from Kings and Rebels but you may guess who'll end up dead at the end of that book. :)