I had this same experience happen with the oldest sister in my YA fantasy. She was supposed to (wo)man up, but after reading her back, she wussied up. And that is NOT cool. In fact, her younger sister was more brute than she. What the what?? Nah. Some changes had to be made!
The good thing is, the fix was easy. Truly. And fixing your wimpy character into a more (wo)manly character is easy, too. Here are some quick tricks to get your character to re-establish their role of cajones holder.
1. Paralanguage - stop making them timid, make them have a "straight spine". Look for descriptive words with their paralanguage and tweak them to say more profound/regal things.
2. Language - simply put, try not to make them "ask" so much as "demand". The character should tell people what to do, rather then ask if they're willing to do it. I made this change in one line, and the difference was astounding. (caution: not everything is a demand because that's just...rude. 😉 )
3. Move with a Purpose - make sure you're character is creating some of the problems rather than all the problems happening around them and they just seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If their creating some of the problems then they're showing their unwilling to settle for mediocrity.
4. React with Purpose - BUT if there is going to be problems happening, because there always needs to be, then make sure they react headstrong and not cower. The old phrase "move with a purpose" is very relevant here.
5. Think and React - sometimes strong characters need a moment to show vulnerability before they react strong. This shows a very human side we all have, and the reader relates to. Once that second-guessing part happens, return to react with a purpose. That will show a super strength of going beyond our own doubts and striving to prove even our own selves wrong.
BOOM. There you have it!! Do you feel like you can get your protagonist's cajones back in place now? Good! The best part of revisiting some of the wimpy stuff and revising back to headstrong, was that I didn't keep reverting back to those wimpier lines. And don't think your character needs to be gun-ho every single second. Make sure to dash and sprinkle plenty of those "I am human" moments where weakness creeps in every so often. Well, good luck out there, and keep on writing!!
~~LIST OF THE WEEK~~
READ: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (murder creates havoc amongst 3 kingdoms), Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill (girl on risky adventure to figure out her father's murderer), Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (camp fire tales of Norse gods/goddesses lives)
STILL READING: A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (ARC), and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
MOVIES: Trolls (cute but not that cute) and Beauty and the Beast (Great but not as brilliant as everyone built it up to be)
WORD COUNT ON YA BOOK: 59,403 (that non-round number is murder!!)
WHAT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY: new book idea I can't start
WHY NOT START: because I know I won't stop, and I need to finish this one first!
QUESTIONS TO THE READER:
1. What is a wimpy characteristic you find yourself accidentally giving your protagonist?
2. What is one "wimpy" trait of your own?
3. Am I wimpy??