When Two Should Become One
Hey, a post about writing! It’s about time, yeah?
I’m halfway through my latest draft of Wolf’s Tail and am dissatisfied. Shocker, I know. Of course the notion that a writer hates his writing in the middle of a book is not unfamiliar to you guys. It comes with the territory.
But my frustration begins with a style I’ve been employing throughout this story. Specifically, I’ve divvied up scenes between two points of view (POV): the protagonist and a “secondary protagonist” through which the antagonist’s actions are viewed and motivations revealed. I did this because, without spoiling too much, this secondary character grows into his protagonist role and contributes to the story in an interesting way (in my own mind, of course).
So what’s the problem with that? My sentence says it all:
“…the antagonist’s actions…”
…meaning that the antagonist is the active character and my POV character has become a simple window. Sure, he’ll pop in some dialog here and there, but the guy grimaces and nods so much that other characters are beginning to wonder if he’s a puppet whose lost his strings. His scenes have been limper than a soggy hot dog and I think this is why.
Activity breathes life into a scene. Inactivity is a pretty vignette at best and a bunch of useless words at worst. Too much of either increases the chance of a book ending up in the reader’s trashcan.
This brought a couple of solutions to mind:
- I can find a way to make this secondary protagonist more active by giving him interesting goals, but I still need to make sure I properly represent the antagonist.
- I can slap the secondary protagonist’s good traits onto the antagonist, making the “bad guy” more sympathetic and turning him into a POV character.
Have any of you run into a situation like this before? I’d love to hear about your experiences.