How to write better protagonists. In literature, film and epic stories of all kinds, many heroes have fascinated and inspired audiences, thus entering history.
I will never tire of saying it, it is not the story that makes a book valuable but its characters. They are like the pillars of a temple, besides making it all better, they are the structure that holds everything up.
In the realm of storytelling, the protagonist serves as the heart and soul of any narrative. Whether it’s a gripping novel, a captivating film, or an immersive video game, a well-crafted hero has the power to ignite the imagination and resonate with audiences on a profound level.
But what does it take to create the ideal hero?
Often what makes us love famous heroes such as Ulysses, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and Jo is their innate courage, loyalty and determination to transport readers into extraordinary adventures and bring epic battles between good and evil (or old and new) to life.
But how do you create a hero that captures the imagination of readers and remains etched in their memory?
How can writers breathe life into their protagonists and make them truly unforgettable?
The creation of your characters is certainly a very personal process.
You decide on their character points depending on what you need for your story. However, this does not detract from the fact that there are some ways to improve the way you show your beloved character to the reader.
There are ways to make him more sympathetic so that the audience can relate to him.
Often the biggest secret, the one some writers forget, is to let your heroes be human.
Not strange caricatures, humanoids, but real humans.
Because unless you have conquered an alien publishing house, you have to speak to an earthly audience. Who experience billions of different stories every day, depending on their emotions, thoughts and characters.
In this article, I want to enable you to do this. To make your character alive enough to carry the story on his or her shoulders.
In this article, we will explore the nuances of writing perfect protagonists.
We will see how thorough characterisation and defining motivations are essential elements in forging characters worthy of admiration.
A character’s heroic actions have always influenced readers, inspiring them and prompting them to reflect on their own lives and potential.
A perfect hero must be able to connect with his audience, make them feel part of his adventures and evoke genuine emotions.
In this article, we delve into the art of crafting the ideal hero, unveiling five essential secrets to help you write better protagonists. Get ready to discover how to make the protagonist unforgettable and make him or her enter the hearts of the audience.
How to Write the right Main Character
1. Give them a purpose, let them fail and show their reaction
There are many techniques for creating an engaging hero who manages to keep the reader on his toes. One of them is to let the hero make a mistake. Let him fail.
Think about it. What would it feel like to read a book knowing its ending. What would be the point of the challenges you set for the protagonist if you were sure he would win them all, because well he is the protagonist so ‘he can’t lose’.
Any tension, any threat would disappear.
Your book needs you to show the reader that failure exists in the story and that with it comes loss. If you make your protagonist fail, remember the most important thing.
Failure does not matter if it does not leave a negative feeling behind. If you want a battle to be lost there has to be a heavy atmosphere of loss, the characters have to really and definitely lose something.
Whether it is the death of a comrade, the loss of hope, or whatever, it must have a big impact on the feelings of the protagonists and thus of the reader.
For a moment, one must believe that everything is lost.
This will not only extraordinarily increase the humanity of the protagonist but he will become an example for the readers.
It will show (you will show) that even when there seems to be no more light, hope can make its way through the night.
2. Use your body
Don’t use just the mind, use their body to show emotions.
In the process of creating the ideal protagonist, a key aspect is to convey emotions in an authentic way.
It is not enough just to describe the character on a mental level, to describe what goes through their mind and what they observe around them. We human beings do not function solely through a mind, so neither do they.
It is equally important to harness the potential of their body to express emotions in a tangible way.
Readers reading your manuscript want to connect with the protagonists on a deep level, and this can be achieved through the way the character moves, the gestures he makes and his physical sensations.
The protagonist’s body becomes a canvas on which to paint the intensity of the emotions he feels, thus making his experiences more vivid and engaging for the audience.
Knowing how to use the body as a narrative tool makes it possible to create a protagonist who resonates in the hearts of readers, allows them to see themselves in those inky words that make characters come alive.
3. Choose character evolution first
Decide from the beginning how the character will change during the story.
It is true that the first manuscript serves only to tell the story to yourself. It is true that you are free to make mistakes, it is very true that you can fix mistakes and improve the story at the editing stage.
However, this does not mean that when the time comes to edit you will want to rewrite your story from scratch. I don’t think so.
You can leave yourself a lot of free rein if it facilitates your creativity but there are things that have to be decided before you start writing. Between the names of the characters and the general flow of the story, there is one thing you must not forget.
Before introducing the characters to the story of the book, you must introduce them to their personal story.
Here you will find some excellent questions that will help you a lot in your story.
What will change about them at the end of the story?
This question is perhaps the most important of all. One of the keys to creating an engaging and memorable protagonist is to have a clear understanding of their path of growth and change throughout the story.
There is no story without change. If the character does not grow during his or her journey, if he or she does not learn, nothing has made sense in the end.
You do not have to decide right away on the end of the book but even before you put pen to paper you must decide, or at least have an idea, of how the character will develop in the course of the plot.
As the protagonist faces his weaknesses, overcomes fears or discovers new perspectives, readers can identify with his journey and draw inspiration from both his successes and failures. To have a future best-seller on your hands, you must create a growth arc that resonates with readers, making their reading experience even more rewarding and memorable.
4. Take from your life experiences
To write a realistic story that can emulate the sufferings and joys of life, one has to take inspiration from that very life.
A wise writer once said that the only weapon a novice writer has is his personal life from which to take inspiration.
You cannot write what you do not know, especially when it comes to your first book.
Your life experiences, the emotions you have experienced and the challenges you have faced can be a valuable source of inspiration for developing compelling characters.
And I am not saying copy your life and put it into a biography (if you want to do that too).
But you must take your cue.
If for example you have to write an embarrassing scene think of a time when you made yourself look like an idiot and use your own emotions to make the character’s real too. Reflect on your joys, sorrows, fears and ambitions, and use these emotions to bring your protagonists to life.
We all have different experiences on this earth but the emotions and feelings are always the same. Mourning is mourning, fear is fear and curiosity is curiosity.
By transferring your experiences onto the page you can bring a unique depth and sincerity to the character, allowing readers to connect with their human experiences with greater empathy.
Don’t be afraid to explore your personal memories and feelings, as they are treasures that can enrich and bring to life the protagonists of your stories.
5. The character must always have a purpose
I have already told you about the importance of understanding the journey the character will take even before starting to write.
In the process of creating an ideal protagonist, it is essential to ensure that the character always has a clearly defined purpose. In every moment, in every chapter, there must be a purpose.
The character’s purpose acts as an engine that fuels the plot and gives direction to his actions. Whether it is to achieve a specific goal, realise a dream or resolve an internal conflict, the character’s purpose must be clear to the reader and meaningful.
A well-defined purpose provides guidance (and reasons) for the decisions and challenges the character faces along the way, thus creating a coherent and engaging narrative.
Furthermore, a solid purpose gives the character a deeper dimension, as it reveals the theirs deepest desires and the passions that drive them.
Make sure the character has a meaningful purpose, this will help create an interesting and engaging protagonist who will bewitch and engage readers on every single page.
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