[Why I’d Be A Terrible Protagonist] – Overthinking Dialogue

The Terrible Protagonist series explores reasons why regular humans (aka myself) would not fair well in the world of fiction. Click here to see other reasons why!

Why I’d Be A Terrible Protagonist:
Reason #21:
Overthinking Dialogue


The masses look to me for an inspirational speech before the final battle…and all I’ve got is “Uhhhh….”

Initial Thoughts:

So I don’t know about you, but thoughts in my head don’t always match the sound coming out of my voice box. And it’s not that I’m tongue-tied in not knowing what to say, it’s that often times I ain’t got anything to say. If I do, it’s overthought to the extent that the conversation is long passed.

It’s silence that comes out.

But not speaking goes against one of the Golden Rules of protagonism: to be unabashedly vocal about what you believe in. That’s the hallmark of being a protagonist (even if said words end up causing supporting characters to die and infrastructures to collapse). Because it’s not about being loud. It’s about getting the message across.

It’s difficult to defeat the Final Boss without the camaraderie of people by your side. With dialogue being the starting point to the connections we make with fellow resistance fighters to overthrow the government or student peers to help us solve the murder-mystery, we need to be able to put a voice behind the action; to inspire and encourage and lift the collective power to “protag”.

We need to talk; to say more than “hello”.

But here’s the thing: while I may have thoughts to unleash into the world, what actually ends up happening is people’s discussions tend to tangent into several (and I’m still stuck on the thought from 10 minutes ago). So then I get to the point where I have withheld dialogue (red flag: unreliable narrator) and who’s to say that others will want to hear this delayed thought–that it will be reciprocated? I would agree that part of the battle is in knowing what should/could/would be said but the greater part is knowing who’s listening.

In the grand scheme of protagonism, there tends to be a premium put on protagonists being vocal and displaying candor openly. Moreover, readers award heroes for their one-two punch of inspirational blurbs, sassy humor, or directness in tackling prejudices. We gravitate towards dialogue that makes us feel something.

It’s when I extend these ideas to protagonist-me, well…as much as I’d like to think I’m self-aware and a great active listener to reciprocate a conversation, it’s hard to say that I wouldn’t be scrutinizing every word choice, the tone in which it’s delivered, or even if I should say anything at all. Part of it could be the fear of backlash because while I have full control of what could be said, it’s near impossible to ascertain how it will be received. And do my fellow teammates even care? It’s concerns like these that often deter me from saying something/anything because my brain is hardwired to overthink and overthink and overthink and overthink—

—and by the time I’m ready to say something witty or to impart wisdom, all I’ve got is a glorious “uhh”.

Does that inspire confidence in my fellow comrades? Probably not. So I totally get why people wouldn’t follow me into the fray. I wouldn’t follow me either. But here we are, at the front lines, in the battle for everyone’s lives. And though my mind is pretty exhausted with the struggle and regret of words not said, maybe you can bank on me being present with everyone else and sometimes actions can speak louder than a protagonist’s words.

I am pretty Hufflepuff after all.

Afterthought Prompts:

Can you relate to overthinking what you want to say?

Do you say it anyway or just keep it to yourself?

How have you inspired people with your words in your life? Did it take you a long time to formulate what you wanted to say?

Are you a terrible protagonist too?


afterthoughtAn // twitter
anotherafterthought // goodreads
picturevomit // instagram


Post Inspiration:

Conversations move faster than I have the capacity to vomit the words in my head. This post was beta read by my bud C.J. at Sarcasm & Lemons.

29 thoughts on “[Why I’d Be A Terrible Protagonist] – Overthinking Dialogue”

  1. What a great post! I am a huge over-thinker, and tend to analyze practically everything I plan on saying before I possess the courage to speak these words. On the bright side, because I over think so often, I’ve broken my habit of saying “umm” or “like” every 5 seconds. Haha

    Liked by 1 person

    I love this post so much, it speaks to my soul, really. I’d be a terrible protagonist for the very reason that I think of the perfect come back ten minutes later, while everyone else has moved on to another topic. And don’t get me started on choosing the right words, jumping into battle or just having the RIGHT, inspirational speech that will make everyone tear up and head into battle or just shed some tears or something. I’d probably stay there and be mute, busy over thinking every single thing for a couple more minutes. Or hours.
    Maybe days. Oops. I’m terrible haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would fail in this regard, as well. I thought this was really relevant to me because earlier tonight I went out to dinner with some current and former co-workers and they all talk SO MUCH that I could never get a word in. And when I did have something to add to the conversation, by the time there was a lull to say it in, the subject was changed.

    If a revolution could be won with an inspiring “thumbs up” emoji, then I would be your girl, though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I overthink a lot, especially about what I am going to say. And just like you, by time I figure out what I want to say, the moment has passed and no reason to even say it. I am also so bad at small talk (or any kind of talk). I’m generally just a quiet person though and I’m not big on talking in person (or phone) in general. HAHA. I would be a terrible protagonist in that sense as well. I had speech class in college and I rarely ever got up there to give any kind of speeches. I was perfectly okay taking a D in the class versus having to get up in front of everyone and talk.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The speech class was mandatory. I would never voluntarily take a class like that, haha. Everyone had to take it at some point by their second semester. It was horrible. I did teach the class how to carve a pumpkin though in one of my speech’s. I actually had to do it too and I honestly just wanted to crawl into the pumpkin and never come out.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You made me think!. And yes I would be a terrible protagonist after all. I can come up with a whole bunch of dialogues to talk and inspire people of course. But only after the scene has been played and I had nodded my head to everything, I can lie on my bed and play the scene over and over and think of clever stuff to say.

    And this is what I am gonna think about tonight without sleeping. No thanks to you!

    PS I am glad I stumbled on to your blog and you found a new follower!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would likely pat myself on the back for such an amazing comment but it’d be in my bed…10 hours after the fact hahaha. I’m glad this topic could bring forth some debate and introspection! If there’s any consolation, at least now you can wonder “maybe I should have said ABC in my initial comment…”


  6. I can DEFINITELY relate to this! I tend to overthink a lot as well, but maybe more in hindsight? Let me explain! I will run my mouth and something will slip out that I did not necessarily intend to say at all, then my brain goes in overdrive thinking of the 294238 ways my counterparts could have interpreted it, while the conversation actually goes on without a hitch, but I am still hung up on what I said 10 minutes ago. I hope that made a semblance of sense haha

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hahahahha I loved this!! I totally relate as I constantly do this in real conversations… I’m back at the deep thought we had 15 minutes ago… and now I’m ready to say my piece… except so one is stopping to let me get a word in edgewise! With protagonist the moment is always right…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello Joey!
    I am also guilty of overthinking (usually when I am with people that I am not comfortable around!) Sometimes my brain is not my best friend haha :’)
    I agree that our presence and our actions can speak louder than words. Sometimes our friends or loved ones need someone who listens, not someone who keeps talking 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! I feel this very strongly too. Sometimes I just need the right shoe in the door to begin a conversation with randoms, and at least thankfully in the reading community, books are a wonderful fallback option! And yes, being present is so important that as much as we claim ABC, I’d at least hope we’re back that up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha yes sometimes all it takes is for a simple remark to start a conversation. I also find that some people are harder to talk to than others, which is just a fact of life and I learned to not take personally 🙂
        And it’s great to be able to have something to fall back on, such as talking about books!


  9. Hmm… i must say, nobody would like me as a protagonist. I have the tendency of bursting into longwinded monologues that would be like 1 page of just me talking in a book 😀 Ain’t nobody wants that…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a very important question! 😀
        Like, on one hand, eating is awesome. On the other hand, being able to fit into my clothes is also awesome…


Have some thoughts? Leave a comment below!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.