Protagonists need a goal, a mountain to cross.
(KL) We’re biologically designed to be egocentric. Thus survival is not a problem, it’s a given. It’s also why this conversation makes my left eye twitch:
KL: So what is your protagonist’s goal?
Writer: To survive.
KL: *face palm*
Here’s the deal. We ALL have a goal to survive. If, at the end of the day, I am not dead, I consider that a pretty good day. My genetic desire to survive is why I don’t take electrics in the bath, take up bear-baiting, or see how far I can drive backwards on a highway at 75mph. Survival isn’t interesting. Whatever threatens survival? That’s what’s interesting.
What did your character want before this event?
How is that threatened?
How will defeating the mountain get him closer to his goals?
How will being defeated by the mountain affect him?
Luke Skywalker did not have a goal of ‘survive this’, his goal was racing cars when not working on a farm. He had a far away dream of leaving his mudball and fighting for the ‘good guys’ – absolute fantasy – until his dad came looking for his sister’s droids…