Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Does Courage Define Every Protagonist?


DiAnn Mills

Do our protagonists need a red, white, and blue cape or a stretchy, skintight outfit that offers supernatural powers? Are heroes and heroines born with special abilities or just the right DNA? Does courage mean the same for every protagonist?

Is there a set of guidelines to check off for the heroic male or female characters in our stories?

My research led to several observations about how courage looks and behaves in a protagonist’s life. These heroes and heroines are committed to facing every physical, mental, and spiritual challenge of their world with determination to right a wrong or solve a problem. Some encounters set the stage for thrilling adventures; while others hit the target as an obstacle to overcome. Every happening is an opportunity for personal growth, which means the protagonist can make a mistake and get wounded physically or mentally.

A protagonist’s motivation sounds strong and noble. Carry the banner of truth and march forward. But the road to victory can be twisted, even dangerous. Success is never easy, or the trek isn’t worth the sacrifices. Often the courageous one stands alone and finds the journey too hard.

The hero or heroine has a unique perspective on how to apply courage to their life. Decisions are made according to their personality or life experiences and behavior patterns formed from lessons learned.

It’s been said that it takes as much courage to stand and fight as flee. What determines if an act is virtuous or cowardly?

I explored the traits that create a powerful lead character in different genres, and the following four admirable traits embrace every protagonist.


· A behavior necessary in the heat of a physical battle.

· A means of stepping forward to accomplish a feat when others cower in fear.

· Making a life decision, studying spiritual principles, and embarking upon life changes that others may view foolish.

To show bravery, the hero or heroine needs physical, mental, and spiritual courage every step of the way.


· Fitness and nutrition employ courage to maintain the discipline of a healthy body.

· Mental alertness to master learning.

· Powerful goals and habits aren’t for the weak-hearted.

To equate strength with courage means more than an action, but a state of mind and willingness to grasp strength through courage to overcome adversity.


· Occurs when a person shakes off fear and ridicule, then expresses willingness to proceed beyond normal abilities with an air of confidence.

· Accepting risks to reach a worthy goal.

· Showy or distinct individuals are described as bold, but the stellar qualities require a selfless heart.

A wise protagonist weighs risky actions to choose if moving ahead is courageous.


· Inner traits needed to perform acts of valor.

· Determination to act unselfishly for the good of others.

· Resolve to sacrifice whatever is necessary to protect and/or save others from peril.

Heroism always reaches deep for courage, not to act foolishly but with resolve that is physical, mental, and often spiritual.

What about you? Does courage define the protagonist in your story?

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards, the Golden Scroll, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, an active member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. DiAnn continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, BookBub, YouTube, LinkedIn or her website: