Sorry that there was no post last week. I’ve been working REALLY long hours and had no time to write anything *fp*
If you’re a writer, you know how important it is to have a strong protagonist. I mean, they’re the character that drives the story so if they’re weak, your whole story is going to fall a little flat. You can have the best plot in the world but without a good protagonist, people aren’t going to enjoy your book because it’s going to be a little boring and frustrating.
So let’s go over five signs to look for when trying to figure out if your protagonist is weak!
- They’re Predictable
Have you ever read a book where you can guess everything the protagonist is going to do? It probably wasn’t a very enjoyable read because there were no surprises.
This usually happens because the writer is following stereotypes instead of creating their own unique, lovable character. And this is super easy to do so we need to be very careful. (And write multiple drafts:)
But how do you know if your character is predictable? I mean, you kind of wrote them so you know what’s going to happen. This is where it’s really helpful to enlist the aid of a critique partner.
As they’re reading, ask them if your character’s decision surprised them or if they were able to guess what was going to happen.
Now, this doesn’t mean it’s awful if people ever predict what your protagonist is going to do–it can actually be fun and interesting sometimes–but you don’t want them to be able to guess the majority of the choices your character is going to make
- They Lack Motivation
What is causing your protagonist to fight for that main goal?
Did someone murder their sister and now they want to avenge her death? Or maybe they found out the people who raised them actually kidnapped them when they were a child and now they want to find their true parents. In my WIP my protagonist learned she is the Songbird but the people who informed her will only help her use her gift if she first assists them in removing the prince from the throne.
Those may not all be the best ideas but they work and they’re something to build off of.
So does your protagonist have a reason that they’re fighting their current fight? You’ll need to stretch your mind wayyyyy back to the beginning for this one or ask yourself this question, “What brought my character to this point; why do they care about the current events?”
If you’re not sure, you may want to take some time and rethink the beginning to give them that motivation.
- They Lack a Voice
As I said before, your Main character drives the plot and so their voice needs to stand out. All your characters should have distinct voices but this is especially important for your protagonist since they’re the main focal point.
Now I know it’s super easy to mash all your characters into one voice with different names (This voice is usually your own since, duh, you’re the author) and this is fine because we have this magical tool called drafts.
While you’re writing your first draft you want to focus on just getting those words down so you have a story and you’re not really caring if your characters sound like you or not. And then in your second draft you’re working on fleshing out that word vomit of a first draft.
But by the later drafts you should have fixed those personalities and be able to tell you protagonist apart from your other characters without even reading their name.
Maybe you’re unsure how to go about giving your protagonist a distinct personality. That’s okay. It can be hard and takes time but a few things I do is figuring out the basics like, Are they introverted or extroverted? Are they funny or serious? What is most important to them? And the rest often just flows from there.
- They Never Grow
This is the most significant thing that needs to happen to a strong protagonist. Change.
Scary word, huh? But it’s also a very important one. If your character doesn’t change, what was the point of the book?
Sure, they may have defeated the villain and restored peace to the land but they’re still the same person they started out as.
This just isn’t interesting. Instead, you need to put your protagonist in situations that hurt them, break them, and ultimately change them.
Remember this; your protagonist needs to fail in order to win.
I know a lot of us don’t want to put our pet character through this kind of stuff (Or you’re like me and take pleasure in it;) but it’s necessary to create someone your readers will resonate with and love.
Strong protagonists can make or break your WIP. That’s why we’re going to make sure ours are the best of the best. Right?;)
It will take practice. A Lot of practice but I’m confident that you can overcome your protagonist’s weak spots and create a character your readers will love.
Take the time to look for the signs I talked about as well as doing research for yourself and figuring out the best ways to create stunning main characters.
You’ve got this.