AT SOME POINT EARLY IN YOUR NOVEL, your main character will declare herself: She’ll either enter the action as a reluctant hero or an active one. Reluctant heroes are a pain in the tuchus. They require all sorts of cajoling and stakes-raising to get them into action.*
But if you have an active hero on your hands, she’s going to do half the work for you. In her eagerness to save the day (or the world), she’ll happily get herself in loads of trouble! Like the Knight of Wands, she’ll routinely jump off a cliff, chase the bad guys, storm the castle, and just generally splash around in all the hot water she can find—all in the name of adventure.
* Here’s a link to a writing prompt that can help you push your reluctant hero where she’s loathe to go: A Horse to Water.
Tarot writing prompt
Pick your hero: Do you want to write about a time you yourself boldly tromped in where angels feared to tread? Or is there a figure from history whose fierce exploits you’d like to explore? Or do you have a fictional hero jittering about in the gate already, just itching for you to pull the trigger on the starting gun?
Let ’em leap: What situation does your real or fictional hero face? Be sure to give her something to dig her well-sharpened teeth into—something no reluctant hero would touch with the longest pole ever made!
- is she taking on a tough court battle, representing a client her older/wiser colleagues see as a really bad bet—and risking her reputation to do so?
- or is she on a quest to retrieve a painting the Nazis stole from her family almost a century before—and facing a lot of (dangerous) political blow-back as she does?
- or, having learned to fly a plane, has she decided that if an around-the-world solo flight was good enough for Amelia Earhart, it’s good enough for her, as well?
Don’t stop now!: Like that ol’ Knight of Wands, take it from here: Leap into action with your character and ride your new story at a flat-out gallop to the very end!
If you’d like some tales of fiery heroines to fuel your own protagonist’s flame, here are three to get you started.
Dreaming the Eagle is the first part of the gloriously imagined epic trilogy of the life of Boudica. She is the last defender of the Celtic culture in Britain: the only woman openly to lead her warriors into battle, she stands successfully against the might of Imperial Rome—and triumphs. Also known as Boudicea, her name gives us the word bodacious!
No. Seriously. If you haven’t read JANE EYRE, it’s so freakin’ good. And Jane herself is simply a mid-19th-century bad-ass.
Rock-and-roll goddess Joan Jett started her first band, The Runaways, at fifteen and blazed a trail that inspired and thrilled her fans.This book chronicles her career—from forming The Runaways to her years with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. With an introduction by Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna.
Rock on! And keep these knight-esses in your heart and mind as you send your own heroine boldly into battle.