Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CREATE A PROTAGONIST WITH CHARACTER FLAWS By Rita Karnopp


Create a strong Protagonist – We want and need to like, and if not like, then care about our protagonist.  You know the kind of protagonist we just hate, but love?  Even if he’s not one hundred percent likeable, we need to care and that will give us the love/hate relationship.
But, most of the time we want a protagonist the reader is pulling for.  He might be ordinary in many ways, and extraordinary in others.  Look for his strengths, and you have a character the reader will care about. 
Don’t wait too long for the reader to find your protagonist’s strengths.  Within the first three to four pages the protagonist should grab the reader and make them want to know what happens to him.
Face it, we want a protagonist we can fall in love with, whether he’s perfect or not.  Actually, the reader will love him more if he’s strong, but far from perfect.  Handsome, yes, but not too handsome.  Rough around the edges, but not too rough.  A sense of humor, but not an annoying goof-ball.  A man with principles, but not a fanatic.  We want a protagonist who can love – and one we can fall in love with.
And remember, our protagonist must change and become better for the story. It might take him a while to come-around, but in the end he sees the light. Without growth, why bother?
I need a hero! Smile.  If your protagonist is a hero —that is, someone who is already strong – make sure he has insurmountable conflicted.
Within the first five pages, show your protagonist’s flaw(s) and how this will make it difficult for him to overcome or accomplish his mission or quest.
Readers love to discover the protagonist’s flaws, not have them waving up in front of their face.  Use subtlety and soften his flaws with self-awareness or humor.
Let’s face it, who wants a perfect, totally good,
Heroes who are nothing but good, noble, unswerving, open, fearless, and compassionate will cause your readers want to gag.  Create a likable hero who has flaws that we can accept.  However, do not make his flaw(s) overwhelming. Give serious thought to how your protagonist will impact your story and create flaws that will aid in this effort.  Make him real with a character flaw(s) you can live with.   

2 comments:

Rachelle Ayala said...

Good reminder to balance flaws and heroic traits. My protagonists tend to have their flaws glaringly obvious at the beginning. But as the story progresses they grow and become more noble and worth liking.

Rita Karnopp said...

I know what you mean, Rachelle... I have to work very hard to do that... they have a tendency to stay rotten! I like people to be nice . . . most of the time - but that would be boring .. huh? It seems I never manage to have a 'nice' mother, though. Reveals a bit about my youth...doesn't it.

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