5 Quick Ways To Make Your Protagonist More Solid
Here are five quick ways to make your protagonist more solid. In other words, these tips are for further fleshing out your protagonist and his/her role in the story.
Make sure your protagonist has a purpose in the story:
(Aka- Does their place in the story make sense? )
In the Tortoise and the Hare, the role of the tortoise was to symbolize the importance of hard work through steady, although slow, progress. If you were to replace the tortoise with another animal say a badger or fox, the story’s message could get muddled or lost.
The tortoise was important because we know that these reptiles are slow, thus it makes the message more poignant, and understandable.
Now, your protagonist doesn’t have to symbolize anything, but when you do first create a protagonist you should keep this in mind:
if your character can be removed from most of their scenes and doesn’t really affect anything that happens in a plot, you may want to consider revising the role of your character to make him/her mesh better with the plot.
Emphasis the personality of your protagonist by adding “character moments.”
Question: How do we know Superman is a good guy?
Answer -He saves humanity on a daily basis, and demonstrates moments of mercy and humility despite his monstrous strength. We know this because he demonstrates these characteristics through his acts of heroism.
The actions of your protagonist should reflect their personality.
Example: For an individual that’s shy or has social anxiety, I would add scenes where the character gets flustered when suddenly confronted by strangers, or avoid social gatherings and parties.
(This post may help with that:https://fularii.com/2017/09/27/493/)
Avoid a “perfect,” flawless main character –
(Also known as Mary Sues, and Gary Stus.)
-These characters are just terrible. Why?
-It’s because they’re flat and superficial. These characters either hardly struggle, or when they do struggle to get what they want. They’re liked by most, if not all the cast, and tend to be presented as special, flawless individuals. (They’re perfect to a ridiculous/ extreme degree.)
The main issues with this kind of protagonist can be simplified into these two reasons:
1.-They’re not relatable, and tend to come off as one dimensional- People tend to like, follow, and sometimes love characters because they can either resonate with the individual or the individual’s struggle.
Is the average person more bound to resonate with a wealthy millionaire who’s got it all, is loved by all and lives a bland life with no struggle, or a lower class citizen struggling to raise a family, but too proud to accept help? (Yes, these are broad comparisons, it’s just an example.)
2.-They tend to be boring– These characters can get stale fast.
If everything always goes right for your character, what’s the point of following them or even following their story? If it’always certain that things are going to turn out fine, where’s the investment value?.
Give us a reason to actually care about the protagonist-
(aka. Why should anyone, other than the creator, care about a certain character?)
-What makes the character interesting?
-Do we sympathize with the character’s struggle like an underdog?
-Does the character have a mysterious past?
-Is there a dark threat this character has to vanquish?
-Is your character the dark threat that needs to be vanquished?
There has to be something that makes the protagonist, the protagonist. There has to be a
reason why we follow this character, and not another side character.
-A nice thing to note is that no matter the genre of the story told, the character does not have to have good traits. They don’t have to be likable, heroic, nice, etc.. The character can be the scum of humanity and it’ll be perfectly fine! As long as that person is interesting, you can make them as conniving as you want.
Follow your own rules
( aka. Debatably the most important tip!)
So you made your protagonist, you know what you want your character to do, and what you’re a character is like, and you’ve begun writing that epic tale that’s been bottled up in your head for the last few months. What’s next?
Well, whether or not you actually plan on actually utilizing the tips previous to this one, you might want to consider using this shred of advice:
Follow the rules you set for your character. BE CONSISTENT!
– If your main character is established to be allergic to dairy, don’t have them eat a cheese sandwich like it was nothing a few chapters later, and never give clues to why he/she was able to do that.
– If your protagonist has a weakness to water, because he or she is fire elemental or something, don’t swap that weakness out for electricity or another power without establishing an event that causes that.
-If your character is blonde, he/she shouldn’t be a brunette halfway through with no passage of time or explanation.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction, a sci-fi adventure, non-fiction, fantasy, ect., you got to be consistent.
If you’re not, you risk confusing a future audience, and maybe yourself in the process.( Unless your character changing without any explanation this somehow apart of the grand scheme of your plot, I heavily advise you to follow this tip.)
6.(Bonus) Lamp test your character
-A common mistake a lot of writers make getting so wrapped up in the plot or action, you neglect smoothing out your characters.
This can lead to lamp characters. Characters who don’t really affect the plot, and play a minimal role in the story. So minimal, you could replace them with a literal lamp, and not much would change.
If you’re having doubts about your character’s role in the story, or you’re just curious, you might wanna check this link out to another post: Lamp Characters