Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How Strong is Your Main Character?

The strength of your story rests on the shoulders of your main character. Have you ever read a story where the main character was mildly likable, but nothing really happened because all was perfect in her/his world? 

OR . . . have you read a book where the main character blamed all his/her problems on everyone else and whined throughout the story? I personally think this one is worse than the first one.

The problems with both scenarios has to do with the strength of the main character. Either there was no major conflict or the character showed no signs of growth. Both reveal weakness and can kill your story. 


How can you stop this from happening? I have several suggestions that might help you.

  • Don't be afraid to give your character pain. In other words, take something or someone away from your protagonist who he leans on and see how he reacts and overcomes adversity. 
  • Make an unexpected move in the storyline that will truly test your main character. 
  • Destroy your main character's ordinary world by sending him/her on a journey of discovery. 
  • Put your main character in the impossible situation of making a choice that will impact his/her life and others. 
  • Give your main character a very strong adversary who could easily beat her/him.
Overcoming even one of the above problems will give your character strength and likability. I wouldn't recommend doing them all within one story. Pick one or two and go with it. The strength of your main character depends on how well he/she handles conflict, overcomes adversity, and grows.

So I'm sure you can add to my list. 
How strong is your main character? 
What does he/she overcome? 
And how do you show it?


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