Monday, October 15, 2007

Prickly Protagonists

STATUS: I worked hard on a contract today. That always requires my undivided attention.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DIAMONDS ON THE SOULS OF HER SHOES by Paul Simon

I have to admit that as a reader, I’m often drawn to stories that have a hard-to-love main protagonist. I find the growth of that character’s story arc fascinating and so worth discovering.

Unfortunately, editors aren’t agreeing with me. I’ve shopped two manuscripts this year that had, shall we say, not so huggable main narrators and haven’t found a home for either project.

Main feedback from the editors? Main character was unsympathetic or too hard to like.

And then you wonder how something like Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed becomes big. For me, the writer accomplished the near impossible—a character who has done something despicable yet still maintains the reader’s sympathy. Not an easy thing to accomplish and shows the strength of the writer.

So now I’m pretty reluctant as of late to take a chance on a novel with a tough main protagonist. Just today I passed on sample pages that were beautifully written but alas, had this fault in the main character.

And yes it probably does mean I’m lacking in courage but when you get shot down too many times, you gotta take a break from it.

So don’t rule me out completely but know that I’m hesitating on those prickly protagonists.