writeafirstnovel

follow a rookie writing his first novel

Character concerns

Conventional wisdom asserts that for people to like your book, the main character (called a protagonist) has to be likeable. Well, not likeable necessarily, but someone they are intrigued by, or can empathize with – in short, someone interesting.

So what makes people interesting? Quirky is good (as long as they are on the same planet!), they need character flaws (we all hate perfect people), they should not be omnipotent or there is no tension in  the plot (even superman has his kryptonite) and they need to be believable.

It’s early days in my novel but I have a sneaking suspicion that my main character might just ever so slightly… suck. True he has flaws (he suffers from panic attacks), he is far from omnipotent (in point of fact you could probably shoot snipe off his back, he is so wet) but he isn’t quirky in the least. I want him to come across as quite average, leading an average life with an average job because it is the contrast of this, to having a god in  your house that is central to the plot. But, making him so average also runs the risk of making him boring – I need to work on  this.

To make matters worse, the protagonist (he who attempts to thwart the antagonist) is really quite colourful – I much prefer writing the villain, and all of the other minor characters so far are much more colourful than the main man. Perhaps I can get away with everyone in the book being more interesting than the protagonist but I doubt it.

I guess I’ll just have to try to spice him up a little bit…

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One thought on “Character concerns

  1. I think “boring” is the thing to avoid. I agree that “likeable” is irrelevant (the TV series House didn’t last as long as it did because Dr. House was likable). But a normal character surrounded by abnormals can work if the abnormals are interesting enough and the normal character is exaggerated ever so slightly (see Arthur Dent).

    Oh, and I do agree that an omnipotent protagonist wouldn’t work. My omnipotent character only shows up occasionally. 🙂

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