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Writer's Workshop- Writing 101 > Protagonists- what makes a good one?

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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (velliya) | 441 comments Mod
What do you think about when you are creating your protagonist?
Do you have a plan? Or do you 'let the character develop as you write, without a clue of what they're like?

For protagonists and other important characters I like to plan, but for less prominent characters, I let them go and create themselves.

So what I'm asking you guys is, what do you want in your protagonists?


I don't know, what do you do when planning important characters?

message 2: by L (new)

L I go into quite a lot of depth and detail in regards to character names, so that they mean something. I may use Latin, Finnish or old english words to match the meaning to the character's personality- hence making it more beliveable and authentic. Many authors have stated that this is a waste of time and you should just let the character develop as you write them, but personaly i feel that if i could develop a world that is a quarter as realistic and believable as JRR Tolkien's then i should be most pleased- as to me the 'world building' and construction is just as important as the writing/ story content. If i believe in my characters and connect with them as if they are real, then the reader hopefully will too and thus fall in love with the entire creation that is so much more than just a story about something.

Perhaps i think too deeply about my characters but i base their mannerisms with humans and my experiences with others in life, hence hopefully as to make them memorable, distinctive and reconizable. If you said 'Harry Potter' you would instantly be able to list loads of his mannerisms and traits that make him so 'real' so alive and so distinctive to so many readers. A good character is one you know about and can pin-point, like a Mr. Darcy or a Sauron- even if you have not read the story that they are in. Characters are as important as the storyline and the tale that you are telling...
well, i think so anyway!! :)

message 3: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (velliya) | 441 comments Mod
So true Lucinda :)
I go into a lot of depth with my protagonists, and (would you believe it?) I do the name thing too! I believe that really taking the time to develop your character will really help with the quality of the writing. I know it does for me anyway :)

message 4: by L (new)

L After reading a novel i hate being left with questions, such as about the characters and wanting to know more about them or the 'world/ setting' that seems vague. Even in most of the background knowlege is not always published (due to editors desisions mainly), i feel that it helps you to write the story easier if you as the author know the background details.

message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (velliya) | 441 comments Mod
yeah, because knowing the person's character and history can help you determine what decisions thry make that will, ultimately, impact the book's storyline.

message 6: by Sage of Souls (new)

Sage of Souls (sageofsouls) | 148 comments When I write, I have a set plan and lore for what my characters are and/or will be; however, I let them develop--even the main character(s)--as the story progresses. Personally, I perfer the younger generation as the prime protagonists, but older, more wise beings as their guardians. Not necessarily having-to-walk-with-a-cane old, but just older beings. Though, since my characters aren't always Human, the concept of age is mine to warp and bend as I please and still allow them to retain age in Human terminology as something far younger than what they really are. I also perfer them to be strong mentally, and not necessarily physically, but to be wise and intelligent--they're will unbendable and their minds set without any doubt or any lingering thoughts on the consequences of their actions. These characteristics are not gender-specific, either. Though I would perfer my female characters to either be more delicate or more sassy, I would still have them retain the same strength and willpower as any of my male characters. Some characters, however, are exceptions, depending on their role in the story. Either way, I still perfer my characters to be able to stand on their own and not have a definite dependence on other people.

ᑕᗢᗝᒪḰᓮᖙᖇᗢჯ123 ☆*・゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚・*☆ Cool (coolkidrox123) | 115 comments i plan my characters ahead of time....of the dstory. i write down their secrets, their hardships....well... i will someday. at the moment i only go the basic bio and what happened in their pasdt... well

in my story, it has 4 kids comeing from the future. i made it so that i know as much as they themselves know abut themselves ad their history. they all have amnesia, so i dont have to worry yet about comeing up with their past. i will have to do that however when i start planning for book number 2.
so i just say their age, persioanlity, their good and bad habits.


kyle: day-dreams/ zones-out...well thats what it looks like...but really he is listening to everything that is around him. His elemental power is air adn sound is carried through the air. so he can hear everything. he can hear emotions that are hidden behind the words and he can hear nature, animals, thinhgs no one else can.

anyway. they thing is my 4 characcters are minor characters in the future..major in the past...well..when they go to teh past...nyways

for my major characters i plan out what i said above, but not too spasific. in roleplays i tend to gte my character to do siomething that they probs wouldnt do acording to my bio for them. like luke: never talks, in roleplays he deos all the time.
buyt i leave space for them to act on their own depending on the situationa and depending on the peopel around them...cause people act differently around certain ppl!

for my minor characters i just let them be free!!! *with wings*

message 8: by L (new)

L Coolkidrox123 {The Shadow} wrote: "i plan my characters ahead of time....of the dstory. i write down their secrets, their hardships....well... i will someday. at the moment i only go the basic bio and what happened in their pasdt......"

I love how you 'let them be free' like they make the story! x

ᑕᗢᗝᒪḰᓮᖙᖇᗢჯ123 ☆*・゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚・*☆ Cool (coolkidrox123) | 115 comments :P nah the minors for my book really only help push the story along adnhelp make it more relistic... like i got a 90 year old healer named Beth. A 35 year old monk like character...they all arejust part of teh background story of the hwole story.

like,....i have characters who find my mojaors adn alert the other major minors...mjor minors: important characters to the story that arent the heros

Althea *Go wolves and dragons!*(Coach Hedge) Inigo (eiyah_fantasyfreak) | 57 comments What's a protagonist?

message 11: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (velliya) | 441 comments Mod
A main character :)
The one the story is about

message 12: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) More specifically, a positive character important enough to grow as a result of what happens in the story. Usually, only one or two characters grow (that is, change) over the course of the story. Romances often have two protagonists, hero and heroine. Other kinds of novels tend to focus on one.

The opposite of the protagnist is the antagonist, which means simply the person who wants to keep the protagonist from achieving his or her goal. Antagonists seldom learn or grow, except in romances, if they are also the hero. But they are not necessarily bad people, just people who want to thwart the hero(ine).

Althea *Go wolves and dragons!*(Coach Hedge) Inigo (eiyah_fantasyfreak) | 57 comments Rachel wrote: "A main character :)
The one the story is about"

Oh, thank you.

Well, it's weird actually, when I write a book the characters would tell me what to do and then I come up with their personality.

message 14: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin (elspethgordie) | 196 comments Mod
Lucinda wrote: "I go into quite a lot of depth and detail in regards to character names, so that they mean something. I may use Latin, Finnish or old english words to match the meaning to the character's personali..."

i approve of the use of Latin ;) also, when choosing names, i like to find one that stems from latin or ancient greek that matches them. :)

message 15: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ I don't heavily pre-plan characters, because they tend to take on lives of their own when I start writing the story. The only thing I think is really important to plan ahead is the character's objective ... What does he/she want, and how does he/she plan to get it? Does his/her objective change over time, and why? etc. A character's actions have to be justifiable in some way. (And that doesn't necessarily mean the reader will agree with the character's actions, just that it makes sense why he/she chooses them.)

message 16: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (velliya) | 441 comments Mod
Of course YOU'D like the Latin Caitlin XD

I never have a single protagonist, my books/stories always have groups -usually of about four or five.
I like to give every character a personality that contradicts another's dramatically. It allows my characters to grow, while I have a plan on how they would respond to different things.

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