Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Creating a Protagonist

What is a Protagonist?

A protagonist is, simply, the person whose actions and problems move the plot.

For that reason, the protagonist is vital to a plot. Without a protagonist, you don't have a plot.

Now, the protagonist does not necessarily have to be a "good" guy. Sometimes lines are blurry. Also, there can be more than one. Some people simply call the Protagonist(s) the Main Character(s). I count the antagonist as a Main Character (after all, without him/her/them you don't have a story), but to each his own.

Do I have to have a Protagonist?

Uhm. Yes. Without a protagonist, or main character, you don't have a story. At all. 

At least not one that's worth reading. 

How to Go About Creating A Protagonist

I'm not so sure what I can say here. My protagonists normally end up coming with the story. However, that's normally just an idea. This year, her name came first. I don't know why, her name is Sarah-Juliet. She hates her name. Thinks it's too girly. She goes by Jewel. (Yeah, because that sooo less girly.) 

But after the initial idea, that's the first thing that came to mind. Her name. Her personality was part and parcel with the idea. But I'm going to try and talk you through my process. 

Back Story

You have to know their back story. Back story is one of the main forces in the story. What happens in the past inevitably has an impact on the present.

I'm a pantser, as I've said before, so I normally don't have it written out entirely, but I normally know the main points in their background. What made them the person they are?


 Most of my Main Characters, for one reason or another, have no family. Either all dead, they're estranged, or they just hate them and refuse to even think about them. But this year, for NaNoWriMo, I had help creating my characters, and most of them have families.

Keep in mind, if a character disappears, or does something dangerous, how will their family react? That's an entire subplot there.

In my NaNoWriMo, my main character, though he's 21 years of age, is kidnapped. He has two older siblings, and a father. His sister doesn't notice, as she has her own family and is taking care of their father. The brother, however, single and quite close to his baby brother, is worried beyond belief and goes to the police. I'm not sure yet how I'll work that in...

Strengths and Weaknesses

And those that know them. 

This is why I make the antagonists (normally) someone from the Main Character's past. They would have a real reason to know the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. It forces the main characters to over come or find ways around their weaknesses and play up their strengths. 

Love Interests

Ooh, love interests are fun. Most of my characters have love interests, whether that love is requited or not makes it fun. Ah, well that's just me. I don't know that I can write a novel without love playing a role. Romance is a big thing for me, but I don't write romance, it's just a facet of my writing. 

Unrequited love is my favorite. Also, it doesn't have to be lovey-dovey love. Familial is great. Also, best friend love is awesome. Especially when that (non essential) best friend dies. And spurs the Main Character on to finish the Goal. (Yes, I have used this before.)

Ah, anyway, that's my process. Sort of. 

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