Partridge India Writing Tips| Writing a Protagonist Pt 3

Feb 14

Partridge India continues with part 3 of Writing a Protagonist.

Compelling Protagonists

Writing a Protagonist
Samurai have been popular as protagonists in film, literature, television, and folklore.

Of the many suggestions this series of entries, this is perhaps the most open to subjectivity and interpretation: Make your protagonist interesting. Something about the protagonist has too hook readers early in your story, has to make a reader interested enough in your character to follow them throughout the story. What about the character is likeable and interesting, witty, funny, righteous, cunning, outrageous, or larger than life? How do they make you laugh, cheer, drop your jaw. Think about the qualities that you admire in others, in friends, family, or personal heroes. Which of those qualities make you want to be around that person or emulate said quality in yourself.

Above all else avoid a ‘boring’ protagonist, better a protagonist be reviled than be boring. If you are writing an anti-hero, give them a sarcastic or dry sense of humor. Make him or her witty and cunning, or any other prominent quality to make your reader laugh, empathize, or drop their jaw in awe. If you are writing a villain-protagonist, strive to make your readers root for the villain in surprise to their selves. Your protagonist will be whom your readers will be following for most of the story, and if they are not compelling your readers will not keep reading.


Protagonist Growth

Writing a Protagonist
Knights and knight-like characters have often served as protagonists.

Building upon previous suggestions, consider how your protagonist will grow or change over the course of your story. Think about where your protagonist starts, the kind of person he or she is, then think about how your protagonist can develop as a character. Maybe your protagonist has personal demons and insecurities they will have to overcome to surpass some obstacle. Ultimately your protagonist needs to undergo some sort of meaningful change, as a static unchanging character is nowhere near as compelling as one who grows or changes.

You will need to consider the events of your story, the choices your protagonist makes, the hardships and experiences he or she will endure, and understand how all these factors will change your protagonist. What does your warrior learn about the true meaning of honor and duty? How does your young student learn and understand a little more about the real world? What does your adventuring thief realize is the greatest of treasures? Consider inner growth and outer growth, how they change as a person and how their circumstances change.

And sometimes your protagonist does not become a better person. Perhaps they embrace or never overcome their flaws and personal demons (sometimes literal demons) and become that which they hate or worse. Even if you take a protagonist who could have been a great hero and turn them into a monstrous villain, it is still growth.


Partridge India trusts this helps

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By Ian Smith

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