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!

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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.

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This blog post can be found at this link!

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Do’s and Don’ts for New Writers

*I thought that this post was so good on Miss Literati, that I’d share it! THIS IS NOT MY POST*

Being a new writer can be very intimidating. From people telling you that getting published is impossible, to comparing your work to others, we completely understand if you are unsure about whether or not you want to pursue a career in writing. That’s why we listed do’s and don’ts that will help all new writers in the beginning stages of accomplishing their dreams!

Do’s

Practice. A lot of writers get discouraged in the beginning because they think, I don’t write well. But the truth is, authors like John Green and J.K. Rowling didn’t write as well as they do now when they first started! Practice really does make perfect. Before you delve into writing a novel, practice first by completing writing exercises.

Edit. Editing is super important when writing a novel. You could have the most original idea ever, but if publishers see tons of grammar errors then they won’t even give your novel the time of day. Some tips when editing are to edit as you write, and to print out your works and read them in hard-copy form. If something looks odd to you in regard to punctuation or spelling, don’t hesitate to look it up to make sure the grammar is correct.

Write What Interests You. A few years ago, vampires were popular. Now, dystopian novels are the big trend. Don’t feel pressured to write about the latest trend. Not only will being passionless about the material stop you from writing to your full potential, but also it will make something you love feel like a job. Write about what you know and always stay true to yourself and your writing style.

READ: Author Tips for Aspiring Writers

Don’ts

Don’t Listen to Haters. Whenever someone tells you that it’s impossible to get published, don’t listen because it’s not true. Sure, it could take years for your novel to be published. But with the right idea, an editor and a literary agent, it is definitely possible!

Don’t Let Negative Criticism Discourage You. On Miss Literati, we offer users the chance to receive feedback on their stories from others. But sometimes, the feedback could be negative. If every writer stopped writing because of a negative critique or review, then there would be no books to read! Writing is extremely subjective, which means that not everyone likes the same writing style, theme or genre. Instead of feeling discouraged, take the criticism and see if it could be constructive.

Don’t Start Off Too Big. So, you’ve decided that you’re going to start off by writing a full-length novel. This could be a bad idea! Writing a full-length novel is a super hard task. It involves researching, outlining, creating characters, plots, sentence structure and more! Starting off with a novel could make you feel overwhelmed and could force you to quit before you even really begin. We would suggest starting off with short stories or poems. You never know, a short story or poem could inspire a future novel!