Why Characters Can’t Rely on Authority Figures

I often tell my writing students that editors are looking for stories where the main character struggles to overcome an obstacle, solve a problem or obtain wisdom.  Certainly the main character can have help from the supporting cast, but there has to be that moment where the main character stands up to the forces of evil whether it’s a dark lord intent on world domination or that mean kid down the block.  In order for that moment to be believable and satisfying, writers need to make sure that the main character can’t apply to some authority figure for help whether it’s the parents, the police or a principal.  If the main character can easily get assistance, the story will come to a quick and less than satisfying end. 

One of the challenges of my Italian chase novel has been to decide why my character has to leave her group and take off on her own.  After all, the risks are pretty high with respect to her high school career.  Why wouldn’t she go to the police or her teachers if the bad guys are closing in? Well, everything changes if the authorities line up behind the bad guys…. 


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