Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Rules are made to be broken. But what about your protagonist?

Should your protagonist be broken? This is a tricky question. Many authors, especially Romance Novelist, have a hero or heroine, who has had some bad experiences. They won't heal/be fixed until their heroine/hero saves them.

I, personally, sometimes cringe at the thought of a woman needing to be saved by the "stronger male hero", but at the same time I would like my white knight to sweep me off of my feet. I know it's contradictory. Maybe, I would like to see the heroine and the hero overcome the bad situation/antogonist together.

Why can't your protagonist be a regular person with flaws, certainly, but like the rest of us. At a conference, B.T. Robertson told a room of writers to give your protagonist a quirk. I can think of many protagonists who have a quirk, like Harry Potter's scar and link to Voldemort. I am reading Embers by Laura Bickle and her protagonist, Anya is a rare psychic medium, who swallows spirits, which she hates doing. She perseveres even though it takes a toll on her body, mind and soul. My own character, John Dunham, gets sick to his stomach whenever he is close to evil.

These quirks help us care for the protagonist, because they make them vulnerable. Vulnerability is good, but I think what makes these characters great is that in the end they prevail over evil.

Hopefully, these flaws will let the readers see themselves in the protagonist! So, write about imperfect characters, who save themselves-sometimes alone and sometimes with the help of others...


Diandra said...

The kind of "flaw" or "Scar" the protagonist has tells us much about who he/she was written for... every single book with a woman who needed to be saved appeared to be written for the "My life is miserable and I want to dream, at least while reading" kind of housewife (who may also be a successful businesswoman, we know where that ends). Usually that kind of heroine makes me want to shake her until some sense falls out of her. ^^

The problem is, I guess, making the protagonist less-than-perfect while, at the same time, keeping them unique enough for them to be interesting. Hardly anyone would want to read about a perfectly styled, beautiful, nice person with a perfect family background, loving husband and great genius children, who spends her free days taking care of the poor and sick. What kind of boring novel would that be???

Rita L. Smith said...


You have great insights. I agree that the perfect woman would be boring. I guess that is why we create flawed characters in our stories, so that they can mirror ourselves. I just want the female's in the stories to be able to solve their own problems, maybe with a little help from their white knight. :)