I often talk about the dangers of a “passive hero.” That’s the kind of main character who has no clear overall goal for the story.
Imagine if Dorothy didn’t really want to get back to Kansas! She arrives in Oz, looks around, and shrugs. What’s that story going to be about? Beats me.
It’s not hard to see why your hero shouldn’t be passive.
I don’t mean the would-be novelist who says they’re going to write but never gets around to it. That is a real issue, for sure. Some combination of limiting beliefs and simply not knowing how to get started is usually the culprit.
I’m talking about the writer who sits in front of their laptop and grapples intently with last week’s scribbling, their stack of research, their journal full of themes and concepts—and yet comes away frustrated because they just can't figure it out.
Storytellers! Listen to me.
Your book is not a puzzle to be solved.
It is not a test that you must pass.
It is not hiding in the marble, waiting for you to excavate it with your x-ray vision and a surgeon's tools.
It is stuff that YOU MAKE UP.
Nothing ends up on the page except that you put it there.
You are—wait for it—the boss of your book!