Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Monday, April 11, 2011


I  stands for an INACTIVE HERO!

Blake Snyder said in "Save the Cat" that a common mistake found in most rough drafts is the problem of the inactive hero. I would have to agree. Sometimes I will be reading a manuscript and the main character seems to be dragged through the story. Sure, the main character shows up but is lacking in purpose.

What's the remedy? A PROACTIVE hero. If he/she isn't proactive, he/she isn't the hero!

Here's a simple checklist you could use to discover if you're having this issue in your manuscript.

1. Is your hero's goal clearly stated in the set-up of the novel?
2. Does your character seek out clues or do they just come to him/her?
3. Is your character active or passive?
4. Do other characters tell your character what to do or does he/she tell them?

Some examples of very proactive heroes:

1. Harry Potter: "The Harry Potter Series"
2. Jace Wayland/Morgenstern/Lightwood (To me, he's just Jace!): "The Mortal Instruments"
3. Katniss Everdeen: The Hunger Games
4. Bianca Piper: The DUFF
5. Alex Fuentes: Perfect Chemistry
6. Patch: Hush, Hush

How does your hero stand up to these? Is he/she proactive or inactive?


  1. This is a good post. My hero tries to be inactive, to not do anything with his powers because he doesn't want to be used as a weapon but he doesn't succeed at that. He acts more often than he would like because he has good reason to act.

  2. This is a great post. Often I think all of us are guilty of forgetting to make our heroes proactive.

  3. My one character is somewhat passive in the beginning as she has conditioned herself to let everything move by without touching her. Luckily I have plenty of active characters to compensate.


  4. I really need to remember this! My MC has things happen to her, which throws her off-course so bad that she (and her creator) kinda forgets her original goal ...

    I'm also writing YA, though contemporary with a bit of a paranormal element that is the MC's father, who is a ghost.