Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Push

Last Wednesday we discussed the relevant push and how it helps to focus your story on what is important to your protagonist and heads him/her in the direction you want your story to go.

Today we're going to discuss the actual "push". Moving your character down the right path is only part of what is needed. You need your protagonist to act; he/she needs to be pushed.

The push must:
1) demand a response and 2) make your character act.

For instance your character, let's call her Rachel, notices autumn leaves have piled up near the fence in her yard. Okay, she's looking at the leaves and knows they need to be raked up, but piled up leaves alone do not demand her to act. Something needs to push her to action. What could it be?

Since we used the genre of romance last week, let's focus on a different genre. If your story targets "women's fiction" and Rachel is a single mom struggling to provide for her two children, maybe this would give her a relevant push...Rachel notices something shiny under the leaves. As she walks nearer that shiny thing looks like gold! Here is the push that causes her to act.

Or if your story is a murder mystery how about Rachel notices the leaves piled up and for a split second she thinks she sees a hand beneath the leaves. Of course, she believes she's seeing things, but an odd foreboding makes her check it out. As she pushes the leaves away with her bare hands, she finds a bloody knife. Panicked she digs deeper and finds her ex-husband. She hears someone gasp. Looking up with the knife in her hands, she sees her next-door neighbor. Okay, I got a little carried away. But now you can clearly see how the relevant push sends Rachel down the path she needs to go for your story.

The "push" is something that your protagonist cannot ignore and something that calls him/her to action.

Look at the protagonist in your own book and make sure the relevant push takes your hero/heroine down the right path for your story. Let me know what you think. Will using a relevant push help your story?


  1. Good post. Death provides the push for both of the main characters in my book. Then there are other little pushes throughout the book.

  2. Jemi: Fear of death is always a good push. Your book sounds very interesting. Let me know when it comes out.

  3. I need a relevant push at the moment. And I'm not writing a book! Do you think you could write me one, so that I can get moving down my path? :) (Preferably no dead bodies or child molestations or anything horrible like that.)

  4. Victoria, knowing how gifted you are with music I wish I knew how to give you a push. We need more of your wonderful songs!!!

  5. Another excellent post, Kathi! You should totally link these in your sidebar because they're incredible.

  6. Thanks, L.T. I'll see what I can do. :)



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