This week, we cover one of Robert’s favorite topics, agency! We discuss the role of agency in terms of both character and plot. How does motivation affect agency? What happens when a character lacks agency? How can you fix issues with agency?




What is agency? How does it work in your story? And what does it look like? When is your plot driving your character, rather than your character driving the plot? How can you diagnose agency issues? And how can you maintain that agency all the way through your climax, even with a cast of characters?

What we talked about:

Is agency an absolute? (1:45)

What is agency? Can you have a character without agency? (3:45)

Example of agency versus lack of agency. (6:02)

Agency doesn’t have to mean physical action. (7:26)

Action versus revelation; causation versus coincidence. (8:35)

Look at your agency before you do a revision draft. (10:20)

What is the difference between acting and reacting? (11:30)

Your characters can’t just go along with one another! (14:55)

Don’t drop the right choice into your protagonists lap. (17:30)

Your character must drive the plot. (18:36)

How do you diagnose agency issues? (21:05)

Choose your point of view character wisely! (22:08)

Your main character must “solve” the plot with their agency. (23:22)

If your character wasn’t there, could your story still resolve? (28:06)


Things we mentioned:

The Story Grid by Sean Coyne
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
George R.R. Martin 

Want more about these topics? Check out:

SWRT 8: Active Protagonists
SWRT 073: Stakes & Agency
SWRT 074: Nicey-Nice

Have thoughts, questions, other examples? Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group

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