Welcome back, dear readers. Today, I’m going to leap straight to the point: sometimes, you just can’t relate to a protagonist, or sympathize with their situation, can you? Here’s a few reasons as to why, so you can avoid them if you happen to make a protagonist of your own:
They’re too perfect!
Sure, a protagonist with charisma is nice, but that charisma usually goes to waste once a reader realizes that the protagonist doesn’t actually have any flaws, whether they’re physical–like scars or a missing hand–or deep, like emotional conflicts or hidden bitterness. Avoid making your protagonist a Mary (or Gary) Sue; it proves for uneventful reading, to say the least, if your reader already knows that the protagonist is going to win every battle, or is emotionally perfect and unwavering.
They have a flaw, but it’s not something relatable!
Everyone likes to relate to the hero of a story; even I do. However you can’t expect your readers to relate to a protagonist with, say, a curse to be eternally beautiful, or a curse that makes them say what they think at all times. It offers some amusing content when played right, but it’s not the best way to go if you want your readers to have some sort of emotional bond or connection with your protagonist. Keeping it a bit more “down-to-earth” like having emotional problems could work, or even making them a “really awkward teen werewolf” has its pros. Have at least one piece of their personality and/or flaw based in reality!
Their outward appearance screams “HERO” too loudly!
While this card can be played well by some, it’s best to avoid it if you don’t have a strong grasp on how to make them relatable in spite of their outwardly “heroic” appearance. If they look like a hero, they probably are, and unless they have a fatal character flaw, such as a compromised ego or an emotional weakness, it’s unlikely that your audience will take a long-term-liking to them. Sometimes they will, most of the time they won’t, purely because the hero trope tends to be overplayed by most everything. If they stick too much to that trope, they won’t stand out! Get creative with them! You can even make it subtle if you like.
Dun dun dun! They were the bad guy all along!
If you do play this card, try your best to make it subtle, but noticeable throughout your protagonist-turned-antagonist’s journey. Suddenly making them “the bad guy” at the climax of the story without warning or reason would bug some readers, and completely turn away others. Just be sure to have a plan when you’re pulling a plot twist like this, or it might just fall apart at the seams.
As long as you keep your imagination just slightly in-check, making a protagonist for your next story should be a breeze! Good luck, dear authors, and I hope you all have a great two weeks! Until next time!
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