Keeping My Hero’s Story HER Story

So I’ve been doing a lot of research this week. Finding out more about the world my MC lives in–the places she’ll go and the things, and people, that she’ll see. It’s helping, I think, as I hone in on problems she’ll face and scenes she’ll act out & through.

It does, however, keep bringing up the biggest challenge I think I face with this book–and that is how to keep my MC’s story at the fore, with the history playing an important background to her choices and paths. This is very important to me, because one of the frustrating things to me about some historical fiction is when the hero’s story is secondary, or worse, lost.

What’s happening, at least at this point in the draft, is that my MC is taking the first steps that will, I think, turn her into a true hero—the rescuing kind, not just the protagonist kind. She is going to have to make some big choices for herself, but along the way, she’s going to make some big choices for others. Which is good. She needs to do that. But it can’t be ALL for everybody else. The choices she does make for her own path have to, in the most important way, be for HER–her growth, her change, her life. Otherwise, I don’t see it as her story.

So what I’m trying to keep in mind is:

  • What mistakes/negative choices my MC could make that risk hurting/do hurt those others around her
  • What selfish choices my hero can make for herself, before the big choice and–maybe–mixed in with that big choice
  • How to show those choices–as truly wrong, bad–not just accidental or innocent
  • How to have her recovery from those bad choices not be simple or perfect or completely redeeming. How to have that recovery be part of the true, flawed person she has to be

I swear, at this point, my MC goes back and forth between being just a selfish teenager and being too good to be true. First draft, I keep telling myself. First draft.


  1. PJ Hoover says:

    I keep telling myself the same thing. I will clean this stuff up on revisions. It’s hard to go with it, but it has to be done. We have to trust ourselves as writers that we will be able to solve all these issues.


    • beckylevine says:

      And, I think, that if we keep writing, we’ll understand more-build more of the story. Fingers crossed! 🙂


  2. beth says:

    I so agree with you on historical fiction. Funnily enough, I think fantasy does the same thing–in some cases, the world-building supercedes the story (*cough*TOLKEIN*cough*).

    But you can do it! You know to keep the story in forefront, and you will!


    • beckylevine says:

      I think you’re exactly right about fantasy–both these genres have that world-building need. But it can’t take over from the story. (And I don’t think it does in Tolkien, but I’m a true addict there!)


  3. I admire those writers who can balance the history with the story in such a way that neither overpowers the other. It’s a rare art. I actually think there are historical romance novelists that do a really good job of that.


    • beckylevine says:

      I hadn’t thought about historical romance, but now I think you’re right! Any recommendations?


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