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Keeping The Characters From Giving You a Mental Breakdown

Updated on October 26, 2014

Creating Your Protagonist

As a writer of fiction, creating the character is the most important part of the plotline. The story may be the best you've ever written, the plotline is superb, the articulation of the story the greatest in history, but there is one problem: Your characters aren't up to par. The character is the epitome of your story. It is what the reader will fall in love with or hate throughout the story. The first step is to make your protagonist believable. Doing so, you must show the reader how the character is and not tell them about how the character is this way or that.

When you begin your idea for your story you must first look for your character to portray your protagonist. Though, many people have a twisted idea of what the protagonist is (protagonist is the good guy and the antagonist is the bad guy). This isn't always true. Your protagonist may in fact be a hardened criminal searching for justice in his wrong doing or a priest turned rogue to save his people. The actual characterization will come when you realize whom the story is about.

I do not know how you begin your idea for your story. I usually find a character first, or in rare cases, I find my story first. Sometimes I start with a title and work my way from there. Writing is different for all writers. Do not be discouraged if you write your stories differently from others'. Many people have different ways of doing things as such. But to keep your story interesting: Keep your character/s interesting. You may hear from other people who read your work, saying that your character/s is/are too bland. Some readers wish for a lot of excitement. If there is a serious undertone to your story, you don't have to worry about giving your character some excitable action. Give the reader what he or she needs to keep the reader in suspense for your story.

How do you create a character that is constantly interesting? Well, firstly, they do not have to always be interesting. Keep the reader at knowledge with the character's character: What he/she is like at all times. Also, your character must have a flaw. He's too generous that he gets robbed of everything he has. She's too powerful that the younger woman takes her power away making her powerless. Flaws help create tension between the protagonist and antagonist, especially when the antagonist discovers the protagonist's flaw. He/she uses it again the protagonist's will.

Once you discovered your protagonist, then the story should flow a little easier, and you, as the writer, will discover how much easier the story is to flow from your fingers and onto the page with such ease. Once created, your character will grow, and if the story sticks, your character will constantly be within the emptiness of your mind and succumb to your will.

Your Protagonist's Motive

"What do you mean MOTIVE?" you ask!

Your character is moving constantly within the story, but why? What is his/her purpose by going from one side of the room to the other? What is the reason he/she said what he/she did? Basically, you are answering the question why.

A few years back, I wrote a screenplay (it was the best one I had written, six all together). The story was the greatest I had come up with in a long time. It was my first idea for an adult/young person film that I was hoping to go on to direct and star in. I created this character, Johnny Turner; this young man, who looking for a way out of a hick town turned toward the wrong crowd of moonshine runners that soon succumbed to greediness, loathsomeness, and bitterness, was the basic of my story. He was actually the conception of the story. The very being of my story. His character was a lot like myself: ambitious, driven young man who would stop at nothing to obtain what he wanted in life.

He was my character. He drove me to write his story, and so I couldn't until I finished his life's story.

The moral of the story is my protagonist (which in this case was truly an antagonist) gave me what his motivation was: He was going to the top, and it didn't matter how or what he did to get there. This was my motivation to write. He drove me to write his failed story of ambition.

Find out what drives your protagonist to do what he/she does. If your character moves from one side of the room to the other, explain why he/she did that, but don't tell the reader... show them why they did what they did. Your character/s will give you the motivation that they need. As you continue your writing and your character's story, you will see things start to grow, and soon your story will develop into what you hope it will be.

ALWAYS ask yourself why is my character doing this? You will find that when you answer that question your character will develop even more.

Here's a link to a Youtube video that I posted with my screenplay:

Bringing Your Protagonist to Life

If Mary Shelley could bring life to Victor Frankenstein, who brought life to his Creation, so can you!

Life is what your character is going forth (unless your protagonist is a ghost then I can't help you there). Breathing life into your character doesn't actually mean you have to give them life. Just you must make them believable and unforgettable. I mean, who actually wants to read a story where the character is blander than plain yogurt?

No one. Eh... Except for a few people.

Basically when I say breath life into your character, I mean make them believable. If your protagonist is honest and lies halfway through the story.... I wouldn't believe the lie. You must write how the character would. If your character is seven foot tall, you can't have them walking around in a short person's house without knocking their head on something. It wouldn't be very believable if your character didn't do some things that is part of his/her character.

Keep it constant! Every one who has read Harry Potter knows how dumb he could actually be. Rowling kept that constant throughout the series making him seem dumber than he actually is. Just keep that in mind when you are writing.

Keeping Your Sanity

Your protagonist will keep on you like a flea on a dog. They will bombard your everyday life with little snip-bits of their lives and to let you know how their lives are going. But how do you keep them from yelling at you like they need their story told?


Writing is always the answer. If your protagonist gives you a piece of information, write it down. It will save you the trouble of them yelling at you later. You will notice that the more you write, the more they will keep quiet. They will keep quiet if you write and only if you write. My best advice there is: Write!


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