20 May 2010

Hero's Journey: Protagonist vs Writer

I'm on the edge of my seat. Will she or won't she?

I left her last time right after she had written the Crisis. Euphoric for having faced every one of her own demons in order to send her protagonist to death -- metaphorically speaking, of course. Still, she wrote it and survived. An embarrassing mass of slop? Likely. All that matters now is getting the scenes written. Before we hang up last time, I gently coax her to face what is coming. She hears my words but does turn around and thus has no idea of the size of the mountain behind her still left to scale.

This time, when she calls, I hear it the minute she speaks. For the first time since we started working together and at the base of Climax Mountain, she hits a wall. Her voice has no energy. She sounds wary. Shell-shocked. Numb and filled with disbelief.

I scramble to assess the damage and uncover something quite unexpected.

From the time she left the middle of the Middle, I worried about her writing the scenes leading up to the Crisis around the 3/4 mark and the Crisis itself. I never even considered her real demons would hit at the End on the way up to the Climax. 

Both the protagonist and the writer are drug addicts. The protagonist is killing herself because of her addiction. The writer is in recovery. Not, however, for long. "Two years," she told me. "This time." Having fought my own addictions, I shiver when I hear the second part of her answer. It implies there could be a next time.

Of course, the protagonist has to hit rock bottom at the Crisis. The fact the writer survived the writing of it herself is a tribute to her heart and her spirit.

Now what I think is happening is that because the writer herself has not experienced her own personal transformation fully nor seized her own personal power, she can't quite see the way for the protagonist here at the beginning of the End. 

I encourage her to let the protagonist do what she needs to do (the writer knows exactly what she wants to happen at the Climax and thus has only to get her there for now).

Let go of trying to get in the character's head and body. Write purely action now.

Ask the protagonist to reveal herself to you through her fledgling actions as the powerhouse she can and must be.

Then let her loose, sit back and watch what comes...

Like I said, I'm on the edge of my seat.