Gaining Ground: Driving the Protagonist's Story Forward
|Image courtesy of azboomer at Pixabay.com|
My post last week, Make It Worse: Driving Your Story Forward, focused on increasing the conflicts for your main character in order to drive the story and keep it from being boring.
This week, I want to address a point that came up in the comments. You should make it a lot worse before it gets better, but you do need to let your protagonist gain some ground. Give them the scars? Yes. Never give them a breath of air or reprieve? No.
I had this point in my original post last week, but in the interest of keeping the post short, it didn't survive my edits.
Your story development becomes problematic when the barriers present little to no obstacle to solving the conflict. The same can be said of your story if you don't give your character a few successes. Think of it as a two steps forward, one step back approach.
A Familiar Example
- Toto escapes the clutches of her teacher, Miss Gultch
- Dorothy meets the wizard (in Kansas when she first runs away)
- The Munchkins honor her for saving them from the Wicked Witch of the East
- Glinda the Good Witch gives her the ruby slippers (this represents a complication that becomes a win for Dorothy)
- She meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, and all three accompany her on her journey
- They gain access to the Emerald City (they were first denied entry)
- They get makeovers (as a kid I loved this part)
- The Wizard of Oz agrees to see them
- The Winkie Guards are thankful when Dorothy melts the witch
- Toto reveals the Wizard of Oz's secret