Everyday heroes: narratives with female protagonists

I just posted on how “everyday” actions have high stakes emotionally for the individual; that conveying this emotion to readers universally is why we “raise the stakes” in a narrative. (Otherwise known as plot or motor.)

I was on FB and saw this post from my friend Lateefah Simon, that shows what I meant perfectly. Here is her post:

This sweet lady ran like a bat out of hell to catch the Caltrain this morning. Her cute black boots were moving at crazy light speed. She didn’t have time to swipe her clipper before boarding the train. She was soaking – breathing hard but managed to find a seat. The ticket taker dude approaches her first. Lady with the cute rain boots pulls out clipper and tells story about what happened. She’s kicked off the train. Next one comes in an hour. Sad cause it’s storming.

Sadder because I hate waiting. Booooo! At least my boots are fresh. Just wanna get yo work. Sheesh.

This is about catching a local train, right? No big deal. But clearly, the runner is a hero and the ticket taker dude, a villain.

If you were writing a story about a woman catching the train, running for it “as if her life depended on it” you might create a plot situation where her life actually depend on it; that will evoke the emotion in the reader that the runner experiences. To evoke and communicate that emotion, you have to make the reader care if she catches the train, understand what it means if she misses it so that the reader misses it to. For me, coming from this place, plot doesn’t feel contrived but the opposite, fully accurate.



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