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15

I don't think your protagonist has to be ordinary to be relatable. While I haven't read the series, isn't the point of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid that the protagonist isn't the "healthy good guy hero" type? Writer Graham Moore just won an Oscar for his screenplay adapting The Imitation Game, a biography of codebreaker Alan Turing, and said that Turing was ...


11

Is your black character living in a world like the one your black friends live in, or a more immersively black culture, or...? I think it's definitely a mistake to assume the character will be different just because of skin colour (unless you're talking about frequency of sunscreen application or something). You can't just write "a black character", you ...


9

You seem to reduce inner conflict to "characters being pulled in two opposite directions". That is, a person who wants two different things, is "conflicted". We can imagine a person wanting both to lose weight and to eat a creamy cake to be conflicted in that manner. This is of course boring and not worth a novel. We can also imagine stronger, more tortuous ...


9

When a character commits an evil act and you want to frame it as evil, there are different ways to acknowledge it. Describe it from the perspective of the victim. When the reader is confronted with the emotional results from the evil act, they will sympathize. Have the perpetrator condemn the act themselves and have them feel remorse. When that would be ...


9

I really appreciate this question, because as a black person who reads a lot of writing by white authors, I've found that very few do a good job with their black characters, and many do a very poor job. Michael Chabon is the only well-known white author who easily comes to mind as creating black characters that read as authentic (to me). I'm not sure ...


8

If characters never do bad things, you don't have a plot, and if every bad action is followed by a speech about how bad it is, you end up with a didactic polemic, not a novel. It's possible to frame even the worst actors within a larger moral framework --consider Nabakov's Lolita where the main character in a first person narrative is an unrepentant ...


8

I think you've gotten some bad advice. Lead characters do not need to be "ordinary", they need to be realistic. You could easily write a book from Luna Lovegood's point of view, provided you could make her actions relatable, which is to say, logical and reasonable. That's not the same as "ordinary", that just means we can understand why she's doing things. ...


8

Overbearing pride. He's done a lot. He's seen a lot. He has a lot of experience. He's very accomplished, and he thinks anyone would benefit from learning from him. The "nostalgia" and "being overlooked" you mentioned are the keys. He loved being helpful, loved being the strong protector, loved being the one everyone came to, loved the attention. It was for ...


7

It gives the most room to expand. As the story progresses, we observe the change of the protagonist, be it growth in strength or fall to corruption, or getting tangled with powers, or struggling to retain virtues against onslaught of temptations. By starting with someone "generic" you give yourself the most room to expand, to make the change more drastic ...


7

Treat fantastic, made-up facts the same as you would treat facts about our own world. Do you describe the physiology of human beings when you write a book about people like you and me? No. Neither should you go into medical detail when you write about aliens – unless your protagonist is a scientist studying them. In that case, give us the same amount of ...


6

I think there's a difference between character development and character depth. Development means change. You can have an interesting villain who is only ever a villain, but still has backstory, motivation, relationships, and hobbies. That's a deep character who doesn't change. But if your character acts like a boring, shallow buffoon for two acts and then ...


6

It is possible, as the other answerers have given examples. However, it requires more care. If you are exploring a balance between two character traits, the method the character uses to about their journey becomes more important than the journey itself. If your character goes from one extreme archetype to another, the story is a clearcut one of "this ...


6

There's already good answers here, so I'll add in what I think are some of my techniques for constructing rounded characters. Making Strengths Into Weaknesses Ever heard the phrase 'honest-to-a-fault'? Even the most noble and virtuous of attributes can become weaknesses if they are improperly moderated. It's easy to stretch a trait such as determination ...


5

Reality is complicated. Usually, in the case of domestic violence, many factors lead to it. For example, both partners have specific fears, both show certain behavior, and all this slowly builds up to the moment when one partner hits the other. Literature is not law. In law, one party needs to be found guilty. In literature, you can show the complexity of ...


5

You can certainly write a successful story or novel with a non-traditional POV --I'm thinking of Room, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time --it will just be a different kind of narrative. The main thing is that a neutral POV acts like a window onto the wider world of your story --which you can then populate with many strange and ...


5

Show the character's Strength (perseverance) being driven by his Weakness (ego, for example). Over time, our vices erode our strengths. When your character gives up (forfeiting his Strength), it is because his Weakness (again, ego, for example) has taken blows that it cannot withstand. While admiring his perseverance (as well as his other fantastic ...


5

Part of why we read fiction is to learn something by going through an experience with the character --that's what makes identifying with the character important. For someone to lose what they and others have always felt is their core strength is a real experience, and one that could be compelling to go through in fiction --if it resolves in a way that feels ...


5

The answer depends on the work's intent. If the characters are thinly characterized and stereotyped because the work's main attraction is a sensationalist plot crammed with dramatic events, then we call this a melodrama. Wikipedia reports that a Professor Ben Singer has identified "moral polarization" as one of the key elements of melodrama. On the other ...


4

Relateable Characters My favorite childhood character growing up was Bilbo Baggins. He was a single-living half-sized creature with a magical ring who was cowardly but clever, and had a great reluctance to try to go on any sort of adventure. I'm nothing like Bilbo Baggins, yet I can relate to dreams of adventure and wanting to be a quick-witted hero. ...


4

"Glennkill" is written from a sheep's point of view. Which is one of its main points of attraction. I remember a story from the perspective of a cup (Böll maybe?). "The Remarkable Rocket" from Wilde's "The Happy Prince and Other Stories" has fireworks as protagonists. Of course, the Happy Prince himself is a statue. Many fairy tales have things as ...


4

(I thought @what gave a great answer, which I upvoted, but it also made me want to look for counterexamples.) In Remains of the Day the main character is a repressed butler who devotes his life to providing exemplary service to a family that may not deserve his loyalty. In the process, he misses a shot at love with the family's housekeeper. The conflict ...


4

I recommend reading this blog post by Larry Correia: http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/04/29/ask-correia-13-ripping-off-ideas/ As to your copyright question, if you're not blatantly taking characters from copyrighted works and using them in your own (as in fan fiction, or by copying them exactly except changing their names) don't worry about it. You've ...


4

it is an interesting question, but I can't imagine it being one that has an actual answer. It is claimed that there are Seven Basic Plots (That number does change depending on who is talking about it) So there are a finite number of plots to tell, there are also a finite number of personality types to fit into those plots. I can't think how you could get ...


4

Whatever point you choose on that spectrum you will have some readers who won't like the place that you have chosen. You will never get the balance exactly right for everyone. I am sure some people would enjoy a purely anthropological study of another species, if it was well written and contained interesting insights - myself included. Equally, that would ...


4

No writer can experience everything. Most of us haven't died, and yet we write about death all the time. Likewise, when we write about grief, we may draw on our own personal experiences, but oftentimes, we let our imagination take control. Perhaps you can boil down the specific emotions you want to describe into more general emotions: you may not have ever ...


4

Inspirational character is anyone who inspires others... And yes, that sounds like I am messing with you, but actually what I am saying is that you are thinking about it upside down. Do not think about what makes a character inspirational. Instead create issues and conflicts for other characters that require some inspiration. Then have the "inspirational ...


4

You could, but having separate stories is a good idea as well. Knowing the outcome can actually make the story more interesting; think of Anakin Skywalker, who everyone knew from the beginning was going to become Darth Vader. The interesting part here is how he became evil, rather than the discovery of it. You could also, as you mentioned, fuse the two ...


4

Your protagonist will still be the girl. She's the "main character". A protagonist doesn't have be a hero. They can be a reluctant anti-hero, amoral, or even a villain. You could write a book with Satan as the protagonist if you wanted. As long as the readers have built an attachment to the character, and her actions make sense from her point of view, your ...


3

Plot... Story... blah blah blah. You're talking about a journey. You're talking about a quest. You're talking about a goal, a conflict, and a resolution. What I don't like is the use of the term "filler content". You can't go into a story thinking like that. Everything you write has to be important, every sentence should define a character or the world, or ...


3

The key thing is not that they are everyman, it's that people can relate to them. If it's Dr Who or Gandalf, no - they're totally other. But if it's someone like Einstein or Alan Turing, it can work if they're also going through normal human life struggles that your audience can relate to. The difference with using a non-traditional narrator, is that now ...



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