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Keeping your MC strong
Tabetha Waite
Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 10:30 AM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 22

There are times when I'm reading a novel and actually become more engrossed in the side characters, rather than the main hero/heroine. How do you keep your readers engrossed in the main plot, rather than have them wishing for the next book?
M Romero Nunn
Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2011 7:10 PM
Joined: 12/13/2011
Posts: 15

Hmmmn. Now that can be a writer's ongoing dilemma.  My book, Otherkind, has several jump out characters and, as I was writing it I must admit I was drawn in by the secondary characters, one in particular who'll end up with a couple of books of her own in the future. But yes, because of my soft spot for the secondary i did rather worry my female protagonist wasn't strong enough by comparison.

So I took a few days away from the story to figure out why I was finding one of the protagonist's friends more exciting to write for than the protagonist herself. I finally came up with this: My affinity for the friend was stronger. So, I figured the only way to fix this was to spend more time with the heroine of my book, Romy, develop her more, get into her skin and find things about her I could relate to. Finally when I wrote her I became her and that's when I felt she came to life and could hold her own against the other characters. 

As the writers I think we're the ones that breathe life into every character and that life-breath is just a side of ourselves, ergo, we are every character. The stand out ones, I guess are the ones we enjoy being more of. So for me, the trick is to find ways to enjoy being the main characters and then write them. In this metaphysical world of writing i'm convinced we leave something in the work that completely translates to a reader as we want it to. The trick is to really invest yourself I guess - no character is too insignificant for our deific powers so long as we just get into their skin.

Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 10:20 AM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

I want to revive this discussion since I think it's very relevant! In her A Writing Guide to Fiction, editor Elizabeth Lyon says that making the protagonist compelling is a common challenge for writers. Writers invest so much of themselves into the character, and identify with him/her the most, that they inadvertently skimp on their characterization. So, when developing your protagonist, I think it's very important to disassociate from that character and flesh him/her out in a way that helps the reader feel a connection.

What do you think? What strategies do you employ to make your protag the most interesting and compelling character in your WIP?
TE Hauxwell
Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 3:15 PM
Joined: 4/24/2013
Posts: 18

I've given my female protaganist several hurdles to get over that I have never faced. Principally her struggle to establish herself in a male dominated career at a time when young ladies of her class were expected to marry well and not be off having adventures. She's also in mourning after the death of her twin brother and dealing with an unlooked for romance with an emotionally and physically damaged young soldier. I've thrown a lot of issues at her and having to sit down and think through how she's going to deal with being pulled this way and that means giving a lot of consideration to her character. What will help her succeed and what will hamper her? How well will she deal with compromise, danger and sacrifice and how can I get her to where I want her by the end of the novel whilst maintaining her integrity and believability and not turning her into a doormat.

C M Rosens
Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 4:21 PM
Joined: 5/8/2013
Posts: 25

I spend a lot of time with my MCs. As it's a series of books, I'm finding their development more and more complex as they are handling different issues now.

In the beginning, I found it very easy to identify with Elsa, my MC, because I gave her similar life experiences to my own. I think she probably started off as therapy... but then she had children, and now she is dealing with them all becoming independent, and her eldest daughter eclipsing her in every way. So I'm finding it hard not to pull focus from Elsa too much, as the point is that she tries to develop a life outside her family. I've also got to get her a *tad* homicidal since she married the villain of the first story. It's a complex relationship, but he isn't really capable of a great deal of change. She's got some serious re-thinking of her position and moral choices to do.


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