Everyone makes choices. People are a sum of the choices they’ve made in life. But each choice usually costs them something. Think about your own personal choices. Are you married? Then you are making a commitment to love and honor your spouse and not someone else. Do you have children? Then you’re making a commitment to care and educate them in their lifetime. Are you religious? Did you choose a career? All of these choices cost you something to commit to. Relationships and careers take time and effort to deal with the problems that come up in life.
In fiction or memoir, our protagonists must make choices in their story lives that cost them something in return. It must cost the protagonist to change internally or externally or even deal with a plot problem. Does she get what she’s after? The goal must cost her something, emotionally or physically, to attempt it.
Think about Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help. One of the main protagonists is a young white woman who wants to be a writer, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan. It’s the early 1960’s, and Phelan’s mother wants her to get married and have babies, like Phelan’s friends. There is so much to unpack in this novel. I’m going to choose one tiny piece. Phelan chooses to write a book about the horrible treatment of “colored” maids in the Deep South. This takes much effort and time for Phelan, and she requires assistance to gather the information. But her choice to compose this book costs her the love of a man she had initially wanted a meaningful relationship with. It also costs her acceptance in the neighborhood. In fact, Phelan ends up moving north to be a writer.
So what does it cost Victoria to choose to begin college as a mother of five?
The major cost is time with her family. This affects others. And it hinges on another cost for Victoria. Internally, because she struggles with feelings of inferiority, and works twice as hard just to keep up in college, Victoria can’t seem to relax or take a break. So Victoria believes she’s wasting time and effort that could be spent making life better for her family.
No, she can’t be the Mom she was before attempting college, spending most of her downtime with the children. She needs time to study if she wants to show those children how to be successful. Her children need to mature enough to understand this. So does her husband. And, most importantly, so does Victoria. She must learn to stop worrying about taking too much time away from family because she learns differently and studies constantly.
Please feel free to offer any insight regarding the costs in this college journey. It would be truly appreciated.
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31 thoughts on “What’s the Cost to Your Protagonist to Accomplish a Goal? #AuthorToolboxBlogHop”
Every action has a reaction, as does every choice. Sometimes we have to sacrifice, like you did with family time, to get something worthwhile. Plus you set a good example.
A good question to ask – every decision has consequences for the character
Hi Victoria – the guilt trip needs getting over … but setting the example by taking time for yourself is as Alex says setting a good example. It's essential to believe in oneself … and then the family will believe too – cheers Hilary
Great points on cost and choice. I think as we get older, our choices cost more and weigh heavier on our hearts and relationships.
This is great to keep in mind as we move along on our character's journeys.
I think Victoria should continue her education and following her dreams. It can be hard to put your needs 'first' but sometimes you have to focus on yourself in order to give more to those around you. Good luck.
I like this layer of the puzzle. Thanks for zeroing in on it for us!
Interesting comparision between real life and the life we create in our stories. Thanks for sharing!
Committing to any decision is a double-edge sword. There is always a unforeseen consequence to any action.
Anna from elements of emaginette
I went to law school at a non-traditional age. Lots of sacrifices and changes, to be sure. But staying "the same" doesn't propel the story, in fiction or in real life. Your time and effort are making your family better. Better just doesn't necessarily mean easier. Hang in there! 🙂
I think society expects women to stop being their own person with their own goals and dreams once they become a mother. There's a lot of judgment and guilt. Also, your protagonist might feel really out of place attending college with people a generation younger.
Some good points here about the consequences of our actions. Sometimes we, or our characters, may not even fully realise what they're going to be at the time of making the choice. I think this often makes the story more interesting.
Good point, Victoria. You are so good at pointing out the different parts that are needed to make a story (and life) compelling. In a way, we all make a certain sacrifice by doing something out of the ordinary. And, that’s exactly what’s needed from a protagonist. Or, to keep real life interesting. 🙂
Thank you for this insight, Alex. I think you are right. Every action has a reaction; as does every choice have a cost. I truly appreciate your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
Thank you, Tony! Just like in life, each decision has consequences. Thanks for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
This is such clear advice, Hilary. Thank you so much. You are absolutely right, although it can take time to come to fruition. It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
And I think you are right, Erika! Thanks for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
I think so too, Allie! Thanks so much for stopping by Adventures in Writing and leaving a note. It's greatly appreciated. Enjoy your day!
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Meka! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a note.
Yes, I think it is extremely difficult, sometimes, for a mother to put herself first in a family. But you offer great insight in stating that sometimes only in placing herself first can she "give more to those around" her. All best to you!
Thank you, Raimey! Yes, it is an intriguing piece of the puzzle. Thanks for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
My pleasure, Charity! And thank you for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
Isn't that the truth, Anna! Thank you for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
This is so true, Lee. Thank you so much for sharing this wise insight here at Adventures in Writing. It is truly appreciated. All best to you!
Boy, is that true! I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one, Susan. Thanks so much for sharing your clear insight here at Adventures in Writing. It is truly appreciated. All best to you!
Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a note.
I feel it does, too. Thank you so much for offering this clear insight here at Adventures in Writing. I really appreciate it. All best to you!
This is so true, Liesbet! And you are living proof. You have an extraordinary life travelling around and house sitting. And that's after a fantastic journey upon the seas.
It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
It is about choices and that makes everything so interesting. Good post, Victoria!
Thank you so much, Jacqui. Yes, I feel life is truly about the choices we make, so why shouldn’t it be so for the characters in our fiction or memoir. Thanks for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your day!
I love the premise of your memoir. I think it speaks to many people going back to college for specific reasons for them at that time in their lives. Thanks for this post.
Thank you, Dawn. I truly appreciate your insight here at Adventures in Writing. And thanks for your comment. Enjoy your day!