On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, author JJ Barnes shares why perseverance is an important character trait and how to write it effectively.
Written by JJ Barnes
Your characters will all have different qualities. You need to give your characters distinct personalities to ensure they are clean and interesting. If all your characters blur into one, they will be boring. You need to give some characters positive traits, and others need to be more negative. However, there are going to be certain qualities that are useful in both the Protagonist and Antagonist of your story. I’ll be exploring the use of perseverance as a character trait.
What Is Perseverance?
Perseverance means not giving up. When difficulties or delays get in the way, the perseverant character doesn’t stop trying. They will keep pushing to achieve success.
A classic examples of perseverance in a character is Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. He is determined to confront the man who killed his father and kill him. Before we meet him he was driven to accomplish his goal, and he remains driven by that goal throughout. He is unrelenting and determined.
What Perseverance Does For Your Characters
By making Inigo Montoya so driven and so motivated to achieve this one goal, it clearly tells you that his mission matters. He cares so passionately that he will be perseverant to in the face of time, obstacles and challenges.
It draws the audience in. You see how much it matters and you’re immediately invested in him. Passion is enticing. When your character cares this much about their goal, your audience cares about their goal. If your audience cares about your characters goal, they will want to stick with your story to see if they achieve it. They will become emotionally invested in them and your story will matter. His perseverance makes Inigo Montoya one of the most popular characters in this film.
Why Is Perseverance Useful For Both The Protagonist And Antagonist?
Your story begins when your Protagonist becomes motivated to achieve a goal, and the Antagonist becomes motivated to stop them. The Antagonist could either want to achieve the same goal themselves, or wants to stop the Protagonist for a different reason. This is the main conflict of your story. These characters drive your story forwards, with everybody else circulating around them, interacting and supporting them on their journey.
To keep your story conflict active, your characters need to be motivated throughout. If they stop caring about accomplishing their goal then your story will stop moving, and their goal will stop mattering. For this reason, perseverance is an essential quality in both your Protagonist and Antagonist. If either gives up, the other will win and the story will be over.
Examples Of A Perseverant Protagonist And Antagonist
Batman and the Joker are classic examples of perseverant Protagonist and Antagonist. Whether Batman’s goal is to disrupt Joker’s plan, or Joker’s goal is to disrupt Batman’s, they are driven. They cannot both have what they want, because Batman can’t both have control while Joker causes chaos at the same time. They are locked in conflict.
Throughout stories, when these two characters go head to head, they are driven. They are perseverant at all costs in their missions to accomplish their goals. They cause trouble for one another, through obstacles in one anothers way. When locked in Arkham, Joker’s mission is delayed, but it is not forgotten. Delays and difficulties cause neither of these characters to give up.
This perseverance has drawn audiences in and made them care for generations. The unrelenting determination of these characters is exciting and entertaining. You never wonder if what they want matters. Neither will just give up because they aren’t really bothered so you know there will be an epic story climax. It’s worth sticking around and investing yourself in their story because you know it will be rewarding.
How To Write Perseverance
When you create your own characters, work out their goals. What does your Protagonist want, and why is it in conflict with what your Antagonist wants? Why can’t they both have what they want? And why do they care?
In Emerald Wren And The Coven Of Seven, Emerald is motivated to find and stop Fadius on his quest to burn women alive. Fadius is on his quest to burn women alive. They can’t both have what they want. They are both motivated and you can see immediately why Emerald’s goal matters. She cares and she is perseverant in the face of every obstacle thrown in her way throughout the story. Neither is willing to give up.
By showing your audience what they want and why it matters to them, you’re telling them why they should bother showing up. They know what your story is about and why it is worth sticking with it to the end. Grab your audiences attention with the conflict lock, and maintain their attention with perseverant characters. Through obstacles and challenges in front of them to make your story entertaining and prove that they are willing to keep fighting to achieve their goal. Then let your Protagonist and Antagonist face off at the end, with one coming out victorious and able to achieve their story goal.
More From JJ Barnes:
I am an author, filmmaker, artist and youtuber, and I am the creator and editor of The Table Read.
You can find links to all my work and social media on my website: www.jjbarnes.co.uk
Buy my books: www.sirenstories.co.uk/books
Follow me on Twitter: @JudieannRose