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Write Your Novel
Step by Step

By Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator of StoryWeaver

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Creating Characters
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~ Step 72 ~

Exposing Your Protagonist

This is where you want to reveal your protagonist not by their personality, but by their function in the story.  There are many ways to do this.  The protagonist is the person 'leading the charge', the person who accepts the quest, or the person who has the primary responsibility to achieve the story goal.

In Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the government thaws out Austin and puts the goal to him directly, thus he is identified as the protagonist.

Titanic, is a lot more subtle, and you get plenty of hints before the protagonist is actually revealed as Jack Dawson.  (Rose in the Main Character.)

Throughout the beginning of the movie, Jack is actively doing things, starting things, which indicates he has the nature to be the protagonist, but is he?  We can't be sure until the story goal is identified.

Even the goal is not a simple matter in Titanic, since it at first appears that the goal is to recover the lost jewel.  But that is just a plot device to get the "real" story going.  And this larger story is about getting Rose to break free from her smothering life-style, symbolized by her engagement – in essence, to save Rose, ultimately both emotionally and physically.

We are led to understand that the story is about Rose since the heart of the story is a flashback about her personal experiences on Titanic.  She is trapped in an oppressive world from which the only escape appears to be death itself.

As soon as she comes in contact with Jack, however, he immediately takes on her cause, champions her, pursues her, and 'leads the charge' to change the course of her destiny.  That is his primary goal and the true goal of the story at large, and he achieves it.

In the end, we learn of the disposition of the jewel, but that is just to provide a "book-end" that wraps the present day plot around the real story of Titanic.

So, like the exposition of most story elements, revealing the protagonist may be straight-forward or progressive.

Additionally, don't forget to consider how the protagonist might interact with other story points such as Emotional relationships and situational relationships.  For example, how does being a protagonist affect your marriage if your partner is the antagonist?

In this step, then, describe how you will reveal that a particular character is the protagonist, and then list all the other scenarios that come to mind in which being a protagonist impacts and is impacted by other story points.