Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Writer Zen: We Are Our Own Protagonists

by Deren Hansen

As the protagonist approaches the climax of our novel, we pull out all the stops, throw ever thing at them, and turn what was a difficult situation into an impossible one. It's a good thing real life isn't like that-- except sometimes it is.

I spent most of yesterday expecting to find time to write up a note to post here, but there was always one more thing that required my attention. I resolutely fought through the legions of time-sucking details until I managed to clear some time in the evening. I signed on ready to write when, like drawbridge raising just before gaining the castle, I was met with a maintenance notice. I could almost hear the antagonist, doomed damsel in his clutches, on the battlements above cackling at my plight.

I hope that doesn't sound overly dramatic, but it gave me cause to consider the ways in which writing a novel is like the journey of the hero in our stories. We undertake the project confident we're up to the task of embodying our vision. There are set-backs along the way, with which we deal. And at least once during the project there comes a time that things look very dark and the prospect of finishing seems impossibly remote.

Mount Doom (Wikipedia)
With my own projects, I've often felt a real kinship with Frodo marching across the plains of Mordor: the end is plainly in sight yet it feels as though neither of us is ever going to get to the end. The analogy seems particularly strong when I have only a few chapters left to write--I know exactly where they're going and they're chock full of exciting stuff--but Heaven and Hell seem to be conspiring to use up my every waking moment.

I recognize those situations as the time for renewed resolve. And I console myself with the thought that the degree of opposition I feel must be a sign that I'm producing something really good.

But what it really comes down to--what sets us apart as novelists--is that, like our protagonists, we doggedly push through to the end.

Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.
Image: luigi diamanti /

1 comment:

Virginia S Grenier said...

Great post. I'm going to add this link to my monthly newsletter column 10 Best Blog Posts. Keep up the writing.

VS Grenier
Freelance Editor & Author