The Terrible Protagonist series explores reasons why regular humans (aka myself) would not fair well in the world of fiction.
Why I’d Be A Terrible Protagonist:
Reason #9: Naps Are Required
That feeling when you’re expected to defeat the villain while touting raccoon eye bags.
Prepare yourself for nonsense.
So I don’t know about you but heroes who travel hundreds of pages in search for a fabled totem of power to “level-up” in preparation for the Final Boss fight are probably some of the highest rollers you’d find at the casino. I mean…just imagine if it doesn’t pan out!
For the sake of this post, let’s call the prized item “The Sword of Winning.”
I’m not saying that this symbolic Sword is/isn’t an obstacle to conflict resolution but it is often the case that they present themselves in assisting heroes survive long enough to tell their story. It could very well be Excalibur, some evidence to a whodunnit mystery, or simply getting into university. In any situation, it’s a narrative included to show where the plot has to go. It‘s about going somewhere and achieving something. The concern is that though characters are often trying to figure out the ideal way to slice the cake, chances are is that they’re skimping out on small celebrations.
What a terrible metaphor.
The point I’m trying to get at is this: while this symbolic “thing” might help you get to where you need to go, we (or I?) cannot discount the true secret weapon in being well-rested and having the capacity to decision make.
I’m talking about being able to recharge by sleep and naps.
As a leading expert in this field, I must say that it’s ridiculous to me that heroes waltz around their story without any attention to their need (and/or realistic desires) to take a power-nap at the minimum. I get that it’s difficult to “show” that they slept as a naturally occurring event. This is what pacing is for; the act itself is assumed. Yet the representation of listlessness leading to drowsiness — and dare I say an activity (?) I enjoy — seldom exists. I’m not saying that my expectations are for stories to cease progressing just so Snowflake Extraordinaire can get their 8-hours of beauty rest. Nah. I’m suggesting that having an shiny new Sword is equally importantly to being aware enough to use said Sword.
This is why I’d be a terrible protagonist unfit for the heroes journey to slay the proverbial dragon. Me, on the page, would go something like this:
You: “rise against!”
Other You: “for the good of!”
Also You: *screeches*
Definitely Me: “yeah…this burrito blanket is quite nice.”
It’s fair to say that sleeping is not interesting or even necessary to know, but the manner in which heroes achieve many of their feats is some crazy nonsense. Like…do they defeat their problems with their droopy eye bags? Maybe that’s it. In an parallel universe, villain’s could be thinking “damn this hero looks like shit and could use some rest…better feign defeat for them” (see also: Hufflepuff antagonists). In all seriousness, there’s an objective need for characters to be tired and given the time to properly rejuvenate before that final fight but they aren’t given it; nor do they really desire it. The weight of self-inflicted responsibility [for perhaps good reason] takes precedence to health and so protagonists carry on and hope for it all to be over on the next page…or the next…only it never ends (?).
That’s why I’d be such a shit hero.
Oh the next building over just collapsed while I was napping?
Someone else was found murdered in my living room?
You’re experiencing miscommunication with your love interest?
Cool. Great. Let me go entertain some philosophical thoughts and figure out an amazing plan of action during my 15-minute power nap.
Are you a fan of sleeping or think it’s a waste of time?
Know of any books with makes good use of sleep by having dream-like sequences?