I love Lisa Cron. Her writing series on Lynda.com is what finally made me understand why my first 2.5 years of working on this novel had me spinning my wheels. I had an interesting character in an interesting situation, I had stuff the character had to overcome, and an outline… but I was going nowhere.
Lisa Cron’s Lynda series is about how to make your protagonist an integral participant in the plot–which was what my story was missing. You can find that series here:
And if you’re not a Lynda member, Lisa Cron fortunately also writes articles for Writer Unboxed and has a book called Wired for Story (which I haven’t gotten a chance to try yet). Recently, at Writer Unboxed, she wrote an article on why pantsing and plotting both fall short, and what really drives a story.
What drives your protagonist forward is her internal agenda: she arrives on page one already wanting something very badly, and with an inner issue – a misbelief – that she has to overcome in order to have a chance of getting it. Overcoming this internal misbelief is what the story is about. The plot is constructed to force her to confront it — which is where the struggle comes in — ultimately causing her to change, internally. Otherwise, that thing she wants? Even if she gets it, it’ll taste like ashes.