How to Force Your Character to Take Action

emergencyescapeA member of the Book Writing World has written a terrific mystery, but his protagonist is a little slow about pursuing the clues he’s stumbled upon that indicate a murder has happened.

I’ve had my own problems with protagonists who feel helpless, uncertain or just plain lazy. How do you get your characters to stop pondering, philosophizing or just buying donuts and start to make sh*t happen?

Get behind your characters’ motivation. What would *you* do if you thought you had discovered evidence of a murder?! Would it haunt you?

Writing can be like dreaming. I used to have dreams in which something bad was happening and I needed to run but couldn’t. Eventually I realized that this was because my sleeping body thought I actually wanted it to run and it refused to haul itself out of bed just because I was having a bad dream!

A similar lethargy can haunt the writing process. We writers are sitting safely at our desks or wherever, and it seems far-fetched to jump up and start solving murders or actively dealing with major life problems.

But if we were in the actual situation, you bet we’d be taking action–and that is what our characters must do.

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