Main characters are the lifeblood of any story. They’re our guides, our windows into the narrative. If they’re bland or unbelievable, your story loses its grip on the reader. A well-developed main character is both relatable and fascinating, driving the narrative forward and engaging the audience every step of the way. Here’s how you can craft a compelling protagonist:

1. Start with Their Core:

  • Motivation: What does your character desperately want? Harry Potter wants a home and to belong; Katniss Everdeen wants to protect her sister.
  • Fear: What are they terrified of? This can drive them as much as their desires.

2. Develop their Backstory:

  • Every scar, tattoo, or quirky habit has a story. What in their past led them to the opening of your tale?

3. Internal and External Conflicts:

  • Internal conflicts are emotional battles your character faces within, like guilt or self-doubt.
  • External conflicts are the outward challenges they must overcome, such as a villain or a natural disaster.

4. Growth is Crucial – The Character Arc:

  • How does your protagonist evolve? Perhaps they start off as a shy individual and grow into a confident leader.
  • This transformation keeps readers hooked, eager to witness their growth.

5. Flaws Make Them Human:

  • Perfection is unrelatable. Maybe your character is a bit too stubborn or can’t let go of the past. These imperfections make them believable.

6. Relationships Define Them:

  • The interactions with supporting characters can shed light on different facets of your protagonist. A best friend might highlight their loyalty, while an antagonist exposes their grit.

7. Let Them Face Failure:

  • Growth often comes from failure. Let your character make mistakes and learn from them.

8. Consistency is Key:

  • While characters should grow, they should also remain consistent in their core beliefs and personality traits, unless there’s a reason for a major shift.

9. Show, Don’t Tell:

  • Instead of stating that “Anna is compassionate,” show her helping an injured bird or sharing her lunch.

Character Generators

Ai writing tools like chatGPT are pretty great for brainstorming – here’s a post on generating unique characters.

Main character development isn’t just about creating a “cool” or “interesting” individual. It’s about crafting a believable, relatable being that readers will cheer for, cry for, and remember long after they’ve turned the last page. Invest time in molding your protagonist, and your story will shine all the brighter for it.