“…has he the possibilities of growth that would make a lifetime with him seem attractive? These things don’t appear later—they are either there latently or they will never be there at all.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
When was the last time you sat down and enjoyed a book about a protagonist who is set in their ways, only focused on maintaining their creature comforts? My guess is probably never. In order to be interesting, a story has to have some kind of arc. Every journey requires some growth. Sure, some stories will end with a character rejecting all the growth and continuing on in an endless cycle of futility, but even that entails making a choice.
Fitzgerald wrote the passage above in a rather charming cautionary letter to his daughter after she told him that she was interested in a man. I agree with him wholeheartedly on its importance. The first requirement of a protagonist is potential for growth. Why would we settle for being supporting characters in our own stories?
The only difference in my philosophy is that I believe we all contain possibilities of growth. Have you ever met a baby who didn’t love learning and growing? Because I haven’t. It’s just that some of us manage to cultivate it, while others smother it in comfort and convenience.
Don’t be that person. Cultivate growth. In your characters and in yourself.