Let’s start with 10 Tips for Creating Believable Protagonists!
What should you consider when creating believable protagonists?
- Develop a strong backstory: Give your protagonist a rich history that shapes their beliefs, motivations, and actions. Look at Harry Potter, whose tragic past fuels his determination to defeat Voldemort.
- Flaws and imperfections: Make your protagonist relatable by giving them flaws. Take Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, whose struggle with trust issues makes her a flawed but compelling heroine.
- Goals and aspirations: Define clear goals for your protagonist, creating a relatable drive. Look at Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings, whose quest to destroy the One Ring resonates with readers.
- Internal conflicts: Explore your protagonist’s internal struggles, like Jay Gatsby’s pursuit of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby. This adds depth and complexity to their character.
- Authentic dialogue: Ensure your protagonist speaks in a way that reflects their personality and background. Think of Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, whose blunt and direct speech mirrors her tough exterior.
- Unique strengths: Give your protagonist skills or qualities that set them apart. Consider Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, whose intelligence and quick thinking make her a memorable character.
- Vulnerability and growth: Allow your protagonist to face challenges and grow throughout the story. Just like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, whose journey from prejudice to love makes her endearing to readers.
- Strong relationships: Develop meaningful connections for your protagonist, be it friendship, family, or romance. Look at Sherlock Holmes, whose unexpected bond with Dr. Watson adds depth to his character.
- Moral dilemmas: Place your protagonist in situations where they must make difficult choices. Take Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, whose unwavering moral compass is tested in the face of racism and injustice.
- Emotionally resonant: Show the emotional side of your protagonist, like Louisa Clark in Me Before You, whose emotional journey captivates readers as she navigates love and loss.
Creating believable protagonists requires a careful balance of strengths, flaws, goals, and growth. By following these tips and drawing inspiration from successful characters, you can craft protagonists that readers will connect with and adore.
10 things to avoid when creating Protagonists!
What makes a protagonist believable? Well, it’s all about avoiding certain pitfalls that can make your main character come across as flat or unrelatable. Here are some key areas authors should avoid when creating protagonists:
Unrealistic perfection: Your protagonist should have flaws and weaknesses just like real people do. Avoid making them too flawless or invincible, as readers need to connect with characters who face challenges and grow through them.
One-dimensional traits: Give your protagonist depth by developing their personality beyond a single defining trait. Allow them to be multidimensional and showcase a range of emotions, motivations, and complexities.
Lack of agency: A believable protagonist should be an active participant in their own story. Avoid creating characters who simply react to events around them. Instead, make sure they have clear goals, make choices, and drive the plot forward.
Predictability: Surprise your readers by avoiding clichéd character arcs or predictable behavior. Keep them engaged by subverting expectations and introducing unexpected twists that challenge your protagonist.
Excessive backstory dumping: While backstory is essential, avoid overwhelming readers with excessive information all at once. Instead, sprinkle details throughout the narrative, revealing bits of the protagonist’s past when they are relevant to the story or character development.
Lack of growth: A believable protagonist should undergo a transformative journey throughout the story. Show their personal growth, lessons learned, and changed perspectives as they face obstacles and overcome challenges.
Overpowered abilities: Be cautious of giving your protagonist superhuman abilities that make their struggles seem too easy. Balance their strengths with weaknesses and limitations to maintain a sense of realism and relatability.
Stereotypical traits: Challenge conventions and steer clear of relying on stereotypes when crafting your protagonist. Break away from clichés and create characters that defy expectations, bringing fresh perspectives to the story.
Lack of internal conflict: Inner struggles and conflicting emotions add depth to a protagonist. Avoid creating characters with a single-minded focus or unwavering certainty. Instead, explore their internal conflicts and dilemmas, making their decisions more complex and relatable.
Lack of diversity: Ensure your protagonist represents a diverse range of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. Avoid creating characters that perpetuate stereotypes or exclude underrepresented voices.
By keeping these areas in mind when creating your protagonists, you’ll be able to craft realistic, engaging, and relatable characters that captivate readers from start to finish.