Great question! The moment I read this one my mind went immediately to SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi. In SHATTER ME, Juliette begins in prison, completely broken, having been taught her whole life that she is an abomination. That could break anyone. But we follow Juliette on her journey as she learns to embrace her power and accept herself as a good person.
Never once while reading this did I think to myself what a passive weakling Juliette was. Why? Here are a few things I noticed that Tahereh did to avoid that feeling:
- Make the situation interesting. The circumstances are so unique and intriguing that the reader would want to know more no matter what the character was like.
- Make a multi-dimensional character. I know I harp on this a bit, but seriously! Your MC may be passive in some ways - but not in EVERY way. Juliette is broken when we meet her, but not entirely. We can still see glimpses of her core. And even if she doesn't realize it, we see that her concern for another human being trumps her self-pitying circumstances.
- Use the voice. Oh oh oh. The voice in this manuscript is so unique and poetic that it's hard not to keep going. It's Juliette's voice and it sings. You may like it, you may not, but you cannot deny the presence of it, nor the impact on the manuscript.
These are all tips we can use to enhance our own manuscript. It's the combination that makes the manuscript. The world, the characters, and the plot all weave together in a dance to carry us through. It's a tricky balance, but when we get it right... WOW.