COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - C - Choose a hero, issue

2021-02-25

What is common between Captain America, Lord Rama (in Ramayana1), Marlin (from Finding Nemo2), Katniss Everdeen (from The Hunger Games3), Harry Potter, Neo (from The Matrix4) and Ishaan (from Taare Zameen Par5)?

They are my favorite people from these stories, but they also happen to be heroes of their stories.

One of the key elements for a story is a protagonist or hero who leads us through the story. The hero is relatable - we are able to relate to their situations. If we like them, we root for them to succeed in their quest. This is the core of the hero’s journey template of stories. You can take any of your favourite stories, you will find a hero at the center of the story. This hero is some human (or animal or robot) you cared about and now want them to achieve their goal in the story (usually against all odds).

In this series on how to write stories, we explore how to write actionable stories for sustainable change. In this post, we explore the first step to getting the story going - Choosing a hero and an issue (an urban wetlands issue).

harry-potter.jpg Source

So, you want to write a story, but wonder where to get started. C (from the C.O.E.X.I.S.T framework)–choose (a hero and an issue)–is the first step.

What do we need?

  1. Age, gender and location of your chief character
  2. Any wetland issue

Creation of a character

  • Identifying age, gender and location already defines some of the peculiar characteristics for us.
  • If your lead character is not human, you can still give the character gender and age, since that makes the character relatable.
  • If you don’t know much about your character, imagine the character is sitting right opposite to you. Pretend that you are a journalist interviewing a celebrity. You can ask all sorts of personal and generic questions.
    • Kick off the interview with leading questions like “What irritates you the most?” or “What is your favourite color?”
    • The trick is to know more about this character than your intended audience.
  • If you are struggling with creating a character or if you end up a character who acts and sounds like your best friend, try merging a few quirky people you have come across. This creates an interesting new character with peculiarities from both or all characters

Picking the issue

  • Start with YouTube or some of your favorite news channels and look for video articles that affect you in the most personal way
  • Do some basic research on what the issue was and how did some people try to solve the issue
  • When you are convinced, you can choose this as the backdrop for your story

That’s it, your C step of the COEXIST process is done. You will find the remaining steps in the subsequent posts in the series.

Download the e-book

All stories are available to download as an e-book.



  1. Ramayana ↩︎

  2. Finding Nemo ↩︎

  3. The Hunger Games ↩︎

  4. The Matrix ↩︎

  5. Taare Zameen Par ↩︎

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