A Good Character is Hard to Find

Earlier, we discussed how not to allow your protagonist (especially females) to appear wimpy or not focused on a goal. In general, readers want to read about characters who are: vulnerable and yet courageous, forgiving yet not a doormat, loyal yet not blind. As Donald Maass points out in Writing the Breakout Novel, “Fiction is not life. It needs to reflect life to be believable, but virtually all readers seek out novels for an experience of human life that is admirable, amusing, hopeful, positive, inspiring and that ultimately makes us feel whole.” In other words, readers demand strength of the characters in a novel. Even the vampire novels feature characters with strengths, even if they just have strong desires to bite their girlfriends.
Writing Tip for Today: What kinds of strengths does your protagonist possess (for memoirists, you are the POV character). Make a list. If you think of this person as hopelessly depressed without any humor, unpleasant or repellant, or overall dark, it may be difficult for you to keep your reader. Imbue your character with larger-than-life characteristics, the strengths that make us admire people. If your character is too introspective, wishy-washy or depressed, lighten up with humor or remember how you feel when defending something you are passionate about and gift your character with that same passion for the novel’s goal.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

1 comment on “A Good Character is Hard to Find

  1. I’m really glad you posted this. ๐Ÿ™‚ One of my main goals with my novel is to have strong, memorable characters. My main character is a female- while she isn’t a damsal, she also isn’t Supergirl. She is a victim of a sad home life, but she refuses to be a victim to her circumstances. Trying to find the balance to keep her consistent and believable can be difficult, but I’m trying. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Oh, and I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of the vampire novels. Quite smitten, to be totally honest. Haha!

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