It’s a rational idea, isn’t it? Make your protagonists active, and the audience will be more engaged.
Generally, it’s not a problem for me. My characters tend to be lively, ambitious and passionate. Even the ones who aren’t ambitious about their career, they’re big on their right to party, live and love freely and to the fullest.
But some characters aren’t that easy. What if there are mental or physical blocks? What if they are in a place in their lives where they lack the energy or the will to live more ferociously? What if it’s more natural for them to just react?
I hear you.
I was recently (rightfully) challenged by several readers to make my protagonist more active. And even though she did a lot of major things, most of those happened off screen, making her seem passive.
So I rose to the challenge and realized there are many scenes where I can shake things up, without going against the heart of the story.
Making my severely depressed character more active (from another story) is, however, more difficult because he already does something huge that affects everyone, but I’m brainstorming ways to increase his activeness.
As much as I resisted this after I first read the notes, when I imagined him pursuing things, I was more hooked by the story as well.
So while you don’t literally have to make your protagonist run toward things (or escape from things by running), it makes sense to show them as taking charge.
What can you do to make your protagonists more active?
Don’t worry, though. If you have already created a Bryan Mills-type character (Taken) who starts getting active even during his conversation with his about-to-be-kidnapped daughter, you just might be okay.