In chapter 3 Les said something that caught my attention in one of those stop, reread, feel the lightbulb go on over your forehead, and think how amazing this revelation is ways. The ongoing dialogue of this chapter is the protagonist’s story-worthy goal. The line that stopped me is, “Your protagonist’s story-worthy goal is probably very close to a goal you want to achieve for yourself”(65-66). My first thought was about my YA protagonist, Ginny, and how she is searching for her identity. Who is she really? Where does she fit in? Her parents told her she’s adopted, but she discovers she’s genetically engineered. Think puberty is rough, try that one on for size.
My second thought was the one that turned the pause into a full on stop. One of the purposes of my excursion into an MFA program was to find my “identity” as a writer. I’d begun writing as a playwright and director. I’d branched from that to novel-writing which, in hind sight, was a horrid leap. The MFA program sent me back to the short story genre which was good for me in a host of ways.
Still, who was I? When I sat down to write adult novels, they were nearly always mysteries or thrillers. The books I’ve always loved to read. However, every time I sat down to write for young people, this weirdo came out. I have no idea where she came from, but she was all over the place. A paranormal here, a sci/fi there, a horror story on the side, a sweet coming of age story as a chaser. What the heck was that about?
Here’s where what Les said caused the hair on my arms to raise. The first YA thing I wrote was the sci/fi novel with Ginny which is at its heart the story of a girl who has lost her center. Through no fault of her own, she no longer knows who she is. I relate. Now I know why this book means so much to me. I understand why no matter how much rejection I face, I can’t let go of this story. I’m not Ginny, but her story touches at the heart of all of us who at some point in our lives question who we are. Sometimes it’s in puberty, sometimes it’s in midlife, sometimes it’s in the golden years, sometimes it’s as we exit life; but questioning who we are is as human as we are.
As you write your WIP, do you think about your character’s story-worthy goal? Have you ever thought of how it might reflect your own goal? I’d like to hear your thoughts.