When I first started thinking about this one particular story I wanted to write, I envisioned the main protagonist as a more "calm", "reactive" type of character. But as I spend more time building the world and fleshing out the characters, I grow convinced that such a protagonist would be boring at best and Mary Sue-ish at worst.
I think an adventurous, explorer of a protagonist would be much more fun--proactive as opposed to reactive. However, I just cannot fit the character I'm picturing with such a disposition. I decided to balance the two, but turns out that's easier said than done.
If you can think of any such protagonists you've read--or written--that were, in fact, interesting or even enthralling off the top of your head, I'd love to hear about them, and if you have any other suggestions, they're welcome, too.
Here's some info about the character and the world:
- A fantasy world. The story takes place on a different planet in a different solar system.
- The protagonist spent a majority of her childhood in a camp that produced child soldiers. This will obviously have had a great effect on her psyche that will show itself in various little idiosyncrasies, but I chiefly want to emphasize the point that "a reactive, unambitious, unskilled person would not survive there for long." (Competition was encouraged, whereas morality was not.)
- I'm going for a blend between "soft" magic, with more spirituality, and a "harder" magic system with a greater focus on the physical and the individual (2 separate systems).
- The basic premise is that the protagonist escapes the camp and sets out to explore the world. She spent the first 7-10 years as a normal child, but she was cooped up in a town. Now, she has far more power and independence (from guardians, say) and no obligations, so she's free to be as nomadic as she wants to.
- I've been toying with the idea of her main goal being to understand her body, her mind, and the world around her completely (mixes really well with the power I'm going to give her), but that tells me surprisingly little about her personality.
The second and last points in particular are what made me want to give her an "adventurous", proactive disposition.
To clarify the question: I have trouble trying to balance the proactiveness of a protagonist recently freed and about to explore a new, alien world with an introverted, traumatized character that's neither mischievous, nor optimistic, nor cheerful, nor any other trait that'd facilitate drive (but she also isn't depressed). Even her core/primary desire lends itself to the life of a hermit, which is most certainly not what I'm going for. I am looking for suggestions on fixing that (or, at least, was; four hours of brooding finally gave me a bit of a breakthrough). At the same time, I want to avoid the "jaded", "battle/life-hardened", tropes that some protagonists display; I hate that. My protagonist is young and, despite a violent history of inhumane training (for the contemporary era, anyway), is only beginning her journey and still has many lessons to learn.
(Bad question, I now realize, in the sense that there's no easy correct answer. I promise to do better next time!)