The second chapter of my latest novel is stumbling to an awkward ending. It’s been heavy going. Weeks have gone by with only a few tweaks but no significant progress. I now believe that there’s a simple explanation. I’m incapable of creating a convincing male protagonist.
This realisation took its time dawning upon me, but when it did, everything fell into place. Looking back at the female protagonists of my previous novels, they all came to life as I wrote their stories. I became those protagonists, slipping easily and effortlessly into their personalities.
Megan, Gina, Stacey, and Mary wrote their own narratives. I just had to keep pace with them.
The protagonist of my fifth novel is male and suffers from amnesia. As I write I can see him in my mind’s eye, but find myself looking at him through the women he meets. Nothing happens until those women notice a change. As the author, I find myself waiting for something to happen. I’ve never had this problem before.
I do not want to revert to the rules of Creative Writing 101. I could set aside the two chapters I’ve written and go back to square one, making a list of protagonists and antagonists and mapping out a logical progression to a satisfying conclusion. I could, but I’m reluctant to do so. I can remember the rush, the pleasure, of writing the first four novels. I go back to them regularly and experience the same rush as I read. The protagonists are old friends. Perhaps they’re a part of my personality.
So what to do? Thus far the male protagonist has met three women of different ages, backgrounds, and personalities. I could slip under the skin of any one of those three and let her dominate the story. Or I could consider this novel an experiment, a learning experience, and force myself to generate a sympathetic, believable male lead. If I fail, I could set aside the two chapters I’ve written and revert to creating a new female protagonist for a new novel.
In the afterword to Psychic Awakening I hinted at a sequel. Megan and her friends were clamouring for a continuation of their story. I never went down that particular path, for reasons unknown to me. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider, to listen to Megan telling me what’s been happening to her since last we met.