Five Things Every Protagonist Needs

I was scrolling through Twitter today and saw a tweet by Createspace that I simply could not help but be drawn to, as an author. I thought that Createspace’s blog post on ways to strengthen a protagonist was so good that I had to share it with you guys!


You’re writing a book, and you have a main character you love. You take this character on a journey, and you think your plot is solid. All the hard work shows as you reread your story and give yourself a pat on the back. When you send your manuscript to beta readers or a critique group, you get feedback you weren’t expecting: Your protagonist is weak. The horror! How could this possibly be? It could be reasonable that you are missing some key points when developing a strong main character. I’m here to break down five things every protagonist needs to help keep your main character on point.

1. Comfort

Is your character comfortable? In other words, are you writing a character the reader will be comfortable getting to know? Is your character likable or interesting? A dull main character is not going to engage your reader if you don’t make him or her favorable enough to carry the book. Make sure that your MC has qualities that will let the reader cheer for them when faced with difficult situations or empathize with them when they don’t achieve their goals. Your MC needs to be your reader’s “friend.”

2. Clear Goals

The protag isn’t worth a lick if they don’t have a clear goal. Make sure to set the stage for a dream or goal the main character wants to fulfill. Whether it be small or big, they have to have some kind of motivation to move the plot of the book forward. Or else they are left spinning their wheels.

3. Reality

You must create a character that is real. This goes hand and hand with comfort. Show your character’s weaknesses, their downfalls, personality flaws, and little things that set them apart from the rest. Nobody is perfect, or you’ll have a Mary Sue or Marty Stu on your hands. If you have an MC who looks like an Adonis but has a chipped front tooth, that’s realistic. Give your character a workable personality so your readers view him as a hero and a real person at the same time. Mr. or Mrs. Perfect can get old very fast.

4. Conflict is Key

If everything is hunky-dory in your story, what’s the point of reading it? You need conflict to keep the reader interested and willing to see how your protagonist will overcome it. Everyone wants to root for their hero, so give them a reason to. Conflict can happen because of the choices your characters make or something they can’t prevent from happening. I like to label them as motivated conflict and unmotivated conflict. Motivated conflict is based on a character’s personal weakness that could be preventable. For instance, your protagonist is an arrogant star quarterback who expects to win the big game, but conflict happens when said character misses a key play, letting down his whole team and losing his scholarship in the process.  Unmotivated conflict is when your main character is happy; just landed the perfect job, has the perfect house, the perfect significant other. Everything is great for them. Until they find out they lost their job, their spouse leaves them, and the bank threatens to foreclose on their house. This is something the character has no control over happening.

5. Growth

This is the most vital aspect a protagonist needs in any book. If your main character doesn’t exhibit some kind of growth—whether it’s learning from their weaknesses or overcoming their earlier conflict—the reader will be left unsatisfied. It’s like eating a large, delicious meal but being left starving afterward. Show your characters overcoming their obstacles and emotionally growing as they do.


This blog post can be found at this link!


Summer by Summer Book Review

Heather Burch’s novel SUMMER BY SUMMER, has more layers than an onion. The job offer of a lifetime for Summer Mathers—to nanny for Joshie Garrison over the summer while in Belize for a family vacation—turns to tragedy when Summer and Joshie’s older brother Bray, who Summer can’t stand, find themselves stuck on a boat in the middle of a storm and stranded on a remote island with nothing but the clothes on their backs to survive. As enemies become allies, the two work together to stay alive on the unforgiving island, and their tensions grow in ways neither expected.

SUMMER BY SUMMER is a novel that had me turning every page, waiting in anticipation to see what would happen next. Though it starts out a bit boring, the ball gets rolling in chapter two. SUMMER BY SUMMER shows that everybody has ghosts in their past, but everybody is able to work through them; ghosts make us who we are. Summer lived through a tragedy, which is why she applied for the job in the first place, to leave her ghosts behind; but ghosts don’t stop haunting just because one gets on a plane.

SUMMER BY SUMMER is unique in its own way, reminding me of many different authors at many different times. There were points on the island when Summer and Bray were fighting for survival when I was reminded of Suzanne Collin’s MOCKING JAY. There were times in the beginning of the novel when I was reminded of THE DUFF because of the wild parties and how Summer felt like such an outsider.

Overall, it’s easy for me to say that I fell head over heels for SUMMER BY SUMMER. I spent an entire day doing nothing but reading this book and sipping tea. One thing that really struck me about this book was Summer’s love for writing and her faith, qualities I felt that mirrored my own.

“Blue Vigilante” Back Cover

Since the entire point of me creating this blog is to show my journey in “pursing” (ahhhh, see what I did there? ;D) my dreams and publishing the Vigilante series, I thought that I would give you guys a sneak-peek and post what the back cover of book one, Blue Vigilante will say.


I’ve been told that everything I do is fueled by revenge.

That’s mostly true.

People want to kill me, others owe me their lives, but none of it would’ve happened if the person I used to look up to hadn’t betrayed my trust…hadn’t killed me.

I’m not normal, I’m three people. One of me is dead, the other will be forgotten, the last will live on forever.

I am the Blue Vigilante. 


Like it? You can contact me on Twitter, @SusanArnoldBook. And remember, Blue Vigilante is the first of four!