What One Thing Does Your Protagonist Need?

Gosh it’s been a busy summer! Do hope you have managed to do some things worth writing about as well as get some writing done? We have had several family birthdays (mine was on 1st September!); enjoyed a lovely walk in the breathtakingly beautiful Kent hills; took youngest grandson to Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway – and didn’t do as much writing as I planned! Still, I’m not giving up on my latest story . . . it’s good to remember that the tortoise kept plodding on . . . and got there in the end. 🙂 Even better, we are told in the Bible (Galatians 6:9) that if we do not give up, we will reap a harvest.

We all need encouragement to keep going, so I hope this new season of writing tips will energise you and inspire you to persevere with your writing.

So, without any further ado, here’s your first Creative Writing Tip for the new term:

What does your protagonist need?

At the beginning of your story, your protagonist may or may not want or need anything, but if something doesn’t happen that will jerk him or her into action, you won’t have much of a story.

Ragged child

We all have physical needs – warmth, shelter, clothing, air, medical help, food, clean water, safety. We also have emotional and spiritual needs – we need to love and be loved, to matter, to use the gifts God has given us.

Your protagonist may have any type of need, depending on the genre of the novel you are writing . . . physical, emotional, spiritual, community-related or all of the above and perhaps a few other things, too!

There will probably be one over-arching want/need, though. So, what is the one main thing that your protagonist lacks, that will make him act?

Does he need to find out why his mother died?  Does he need to find out what the message in the bottle means? Is she desperately seeking forgiveness/love/acceptance? Will he gain significance from solving the crime? Does she need release from fear? Does he need to get to a place of safety (and save others, too)?

This main need of your protagonist, and their search to get it, will be your story. So what’s yours? 🙂

Janet Wilson
Janet Wilson

Please do share this on your social networks if you found it useful. Share the wealth!

Have a wonderful writing week,


P.S. The next writing course starts soon. Places are limited. You can read all about it here.



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