A powerful novel needs a main character with an important goal he must achieve by the end of the novel. At all costs, the main character must achieve the goal or fail utterly with devastating cost to him and those around him.
A recent novel I tried to read reminded me of when that goal won't work.
Here's the premise. The heroine is the standard urban fantasy woman-- incredible supernatural abilities, snappy leather outfit and dialogue, sharp weapons, and a supernatural boyfriend. So far, so good.
Even better, she is the prophesied warrior who can stop the supernatural baddies before they can start the Apocalypse by opening the gates to Hell.
The Big Bad holds her innocent kid sister hostage, and the ransom is the keys to open all of Hell's gates to Earth.
She must decide whether to save her kid sister by helping the demons of Hell wipe out human life or lose her sister and save everyone else.
A no-brainer, right? She'd choose to save humanity.
Instead, she chooses to help the demons end life on Earth with the very faint possibility she may be able to stop them.
At this point in the novel, I said some rude things about the stupidity and selfishness of the heroine and stopped reading because this wasn't a heroine I could root for.
When you are thinking about your main character's goal for the novel, remember that it must be a goal the reader can root for. Saving a sibling is a good thing but saving a sibling at the cost of everyone else's life is a bad thing.
A hero's goal is selfless, not selfish.
Marilynn's Workshop Schedule and Information Links
"Magic, Monsters and Amour: Creating a Believable Paranormal, Fantasy, or SF World." October 4-31, 2010. Savvyauthors.com
Are vampires, fairies, and space aliens real? If you create the right background for your paranormal romance, they will be to a reader. I'll show you how to create a fantasy or paranormal background from scratch and how to make it utterly believable.
"The Big Question: How to Create a Powerful Novel from a Few Ideas and One Big Question" November 8-13, 2010. writersonline.com.
Have you ever read a story then felt dissatisfied by it as you put it down? All the story elements--plot, characters, romance, and suspense--were there, but something was missing. That something is often called depth or resonance, and it's that element that turns an ordinary story into one you couldn't put down.
How do you write a story like that? It starts with the creation of the story. I’ll show you how to take a simple plot idea, premise, or character and turn it into a novel with resonance.
"Deconstructing Jim Butcher's STORM FRONT" November 8-13, 2010. Savvyauthors.com
Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" series is one of the best-written and most successful urban fantasy series today. I will analyze STORM FRONT, the first novel, as an urban fantasy, as a genre-blending mix of fantasy and detective noir, and as a great model for worldbuilding for a series. I will also show how the hero, Harry Dresden, is a perfect mixture of other worldly powers and human strengths and weaknesses. Paranormal romance authors will also find this analysis of interest.