Can the Passivity of the Protagonist Spoil the Perception of Your Book
Well, the eye of the critic will always notice that kind of mistake. So what lies at the core of the passivity that spoils the whole story? I believe that’s the inability of the hero to affect things that happen around him. The protagonist may have some goals and interests, but if events develop by themselves, he becomes passive.
The main thing that distinguishes active from passive is actions. If the character makes decisions and acts, he’s active. But if these actions are the reaction to events happening around, then, no doubt, he’s passive.
- The lack of goals. You won’t succeed with your book if the hero either does not know what he wants or has a very vague understanding of his goals. I think that’s the basic point. If the hero has no motivation and no a specific and clear purpose, then the whole story takes a different angle. Incidentally, the existence of a clear goal can easily justify the overall straightforwardness of the story! Look at the numerous thrillers and adventure novels: do they have well-thought out and sophisticated plots? Of course, they don’t, but a cool guy saving his daughter from captivity easily holds the audience's attention. An understandable goal along with an actively acting character creates the plot itself, and often it’s much more interesting to empathize than wait for the next ace in the hole.
- No search for ways to achieve the goal. The path of the character towards his intentions is another important element of a good story. If the fate and will of the author favor the protagonist by all means, then why empathize the already lucky man? It happens that on the way to the goal, the hero solves some puzzles. If the answers and solutions are simple and easy or provided to him by another character, it adds another passive trait to the image.
- Passivity as part of the character’s personality. Take a look at your character’s temper. If he’s active and energetic, you won’t have any problems, but if you conceived him as an apathetic thinker who tends to observe and analyze instead of act, you may experience some problems in the course of the plot. That’s why, if choosing a calm and balanced hero, think in advance how he will motivate his charge to action. Otherwise, you’ll get the same passive hero.
- Dialogue with a lot of questions. Pay attention to the way your hero or heroine speaks. Is he or she asking questions all the time but never offers a personal opinion? That would suggest a passive character. A lot of the time, others will ask an active character questions, not the other way around. This is a fairly subtle point, so please don’t overlook it and don’t forget that, first and foremost, the hero should act, not talk.