Friday, August 21, 2015

When Protagonists Wimp Out

They aren't your children. Really they're not. Not unless you run your family like a Dickensian orphanage, where the little dears are sent out to make a buck for you, and if they return empty-handed they are sent to bed without supper.

No. Your protagonists are characters who must do work. In the case of Belinda Zorn, heroine (or so I thought) of this thriller I'm trying to write, the work to be done is simply to smash a ring of German spies in 1915 New York City. This calls for certain qualities. First of all, she has to be brave, athletic, and clever. Quick-thinking. Active. She had two jobs, basically: defeating the spy ring and making the readers like her. Instead I find her drooping around, falling in love with one of the spies, dropping the ball, bursting into tears for hardly any reason. Ineffective. Unlikeable.

This has got to stop!! For the last time, Belinda, pull your socks up and get to work. Other women would love to have your job, you know. I can think of three or four. Today is your last chance. After that you will be mercilessly replaced. They don't tell us to kill our darlings for nothing, you know.

Kate Gallison


  1. Hell's bells, Kate! Give her a break! This hot steamy weather has been enough to break a whole nunnery!!! Let her off til after Labor Day, for god's sake, girl! tjstraw in the oven of manhattan

  2. Maybe if she had a more kick-ass name...? I'm afraid "Belinda" sounds a little too sweet and helpless to me.

    1. Maybe so. I named her after my first doll. Probably a mistake.

    2. Hmm. Maybe something from German pagan folklore. Freia. Sieglinde. Brünnhilde. Isolde. Ilse the she-wolf of the SS.

  3. Agree with Susan D. tjs

  4. Ah yes, dear old Ilse, she-wolf of the SS. Hmm, perhaps a tad too far the other way? :^) Oh, you were joking, right? She's supposed to be fighting the Germans.

    Perhaps borrow one of the hearty, sporty girls from Wodehouse? (Not the drips, like Honoria and Edith and Daphne.) The good sports, like Bobbie and Billie and Jane and Patricia and Penny and Corky and Joan and Anne. Girls who don't balk at stealing necklaces to help out an old school friend or holding an elephant gun on an intruder/imposter.