Active and Passive Heroes

All that I’ve read about the heroes you create for your stories say they have to be proactive. That is, they need to push the story forward. The problem I’ve had with my heroes is that I want to focus on people who are unsure of themselves. While they may not be overtly in conflict, my preferred heroes are in internal conflict. I feel that this is a more realistic portrayal of people.

How can I deal with the kind of characters I want to work with, and still make them the kind of characters that people will want to read about. I do think it is possible.

I think the main problem I have is I find it difficult to portray internal conflict. Often people comment that my characters are just lumps that do nothing. In my mind there is a lot that happens with these characters, but no one else can see that. This is obviously a skill I need to develop. In writing I can always fall back to he/she thought descriptions, but since my ultimate goal is to make a film that is not an option.

In some of my recent stories I experimented with heroes whose conflicts are external. On one hand this has made me more comfortable with a different kind of character. On the other hand, I feel that they are too superficial.

Another approach I’ve thought about is to create external metaphors for the internal conflict. It is a very common approach, but one I have not really pursued. I guess part of the problem is that my inclination is to make everything literal. That is good for technical writing, where most of my experience is, but for the creative writing I do now, it just doesn’t work.

In the future I will try to create metaphors in my stories to express the character’s inner conflicts.

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