Is your protagonist a zero or a hero? Did you create a wimpy protagonist? Compare the lists below with your main character and see whether he (or she) passes the test.
-retreats whenever conflict is present
-worries and is indecisive
-may not know himself and because of this makes inconsistent choices
-crumbles under pressure
-can’t handle pain, physical or emotional
-lacks self-esteem and courage
-blame others for his problems instead of trying to resolve the issues
-avoids, avoids, avoids. A wimp avoids intimacy, conflict, responsibility, etc…
-is forgettable, doesn’t stand out
-refuses to give up, retreat, lose, or die
-saves others and/or himself
-has a good understanding of himself
-is confident and brave
-will do whatever it takes to get the job done
-accepts responsibility and learns from his mistakes
-is strong mentally, emotionally, and/or physically
One of the most crushing comments a writer can hear is that her protagonist is a wimp. However, this is something she can fix. First, she needs to better understand her character. Some writers interview their characters and others create a GMC (goals, motivations, and conflicts) chart. With this new understanding, she can go through her manuscript and question everything the protagonist says and does. Was that heroic? If not, can she make the necessary amendments without changing the scene too much? Does she have to rewrite the scene or delete it and write a new one?
Have you ever had someone tell you your character is too wimpy? Have you felt you needed to make your protagonist stronger? Looking back, have any of your protagonists been a little on the wimpy side?