1. Brigid

    Brigid Active Member

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    Compared to my supporting characters, my female protagonist is a bore (sorry to her, but true!)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Brigid, Apr 23, 2017.

    I notice often two different young females in fiction: either tomboy or girly girl. There must be more to us females, right?

    Although my female protagonist has a rather big secret and isn't always honest, I didn't come up with much more at the moment. It feels to me that this is not enough.

    My supporting characters are unusual, quirky and fun, and I created them in a snap. However, not so with my protagonist. Already thought not making her POV but that would probably not work with the rest of the story.

    I don't want her to be tomboy or girly girl as these two bore me a bit.

    How do you make your characters not the same old same old?

    During an university lecture published writer Brandon Sanderson asked his students who they think is the most bland character of the three: Harry Potter, Ron or Hermoine. They immediately agreed that it was Harry, despite he is the POV.

    I want a non-bland POV.
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I think that we need more details. You mention two boring types of females, but you say that your supporting characters are interesting. Does this mean that your supporting characters are all male? If some are female, then presumably you've already broken out of the stereotype.

    Details?
     
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  3. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    The fact that arguably the most successful and well-written series has a bland central character says a lot. JK clearly chose to go with an everyboy and aim for relatability over three-dimensionality (though she didn't sacrifice character growth.) It would be okay if your protagonist was bland if the story was interesting. But my advice for a fascinating character would be to treat them as a secondary character. Just a few scenes or so that make you want to know what's in their head. Make yourself say, I'd read the heck out of a spinoff based on them. And guess what-- that spinoff is actually the book you're trying to write! I feel I may be guilty of neglecting certain characters over more interesting secondary characters.
    Another method is to give them an awesome future-- whether they get it at the end or you just make it up for the sake of the exercise. What would a great person's path to greatness look like? Write that.
     
  4. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    In 90% of the books, movies, tv shows, games, whatever, I have never "liked" the MC very much... not like I hated them, but was always kinda bored with them, especially when they were dealing with main plot stuff. Supporting characters are just that, they're supporting the otherwise bland MC. I will say it's important that there's something likeable about them, but it doesn't need to be overly fascinating. I know this isn't just me either, pretty much everyone I've talked to about this topic has concurred that the MC was their least favorite. If you have an MC that is too quirky and doesn't come off as an MC but just another supporting character that has the POV, then this can be almost worse at times. I'd rather have a boring MC than one who doesn't seem like they are an MC.

    The ones I have liked are usually random, and honestly I can't even think of any right now...that's how rare it is. I don't always think they're completely boring, it's just that usually I want to hear more about the other characters instead, and that it can sometimes make me lose interest while the MC is taking the stage.
     
  5. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    If she is a bore and truly the protag then won't your book be boring too?
     
  6. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    What genre is this and what kind of character ?
     
  7. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    No. Example: Harry Potter.
     
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  8. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    You got me there chief. I never read Harry Potter nor saw the movies.
    I hope you can pull it off as well as Janet did.
     
  9. Brigid

    Brigid Active Member

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    No, my book is anything but boring. Lots of actions. My problem with her is that she isn't as hilarious or unusual as the other characters. She is average... and that bothers me, lol.
     
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  10. Brigid

    Brigid Active Member

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    Young adult and she takes on the mother role to her younger sister. She must be a bit mature than the others but I don't want her to be a cliche.
     
  11. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    Average does not mean boring.
     
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  12. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Quite often that is what makes a main character special. It's not who they are, it's what they become.
     
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  13. Brigid

    Brigid Active Member

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    Hi CR, no, I got other females and they are quirky, different, and funny in their own ways. I just wonder why my main girl is so conservative. She has a secret and is not always honest but I think there should be more to her. On the other side, I don't want to make her too quirky as there are enough others around who are like that.
     
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  14. Brigid

    Brigid Active Member

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    I plan to give her a character arc, rltko. Maybe you are right. Maybe it is okay the way she is right now and I just let her grow... She does not make the wisest decisions as of now... Guess I just have to think a bit more about her.

    Maybe she isn't boring at all and I just think so because I was different at her age. I can't make her like myself because there is another female character who is like I was in that age. Lol!
     
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  15. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    I seriously don't think it's a problem then.
     
  16. Brigid

    Brigid Active Member

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    I noticed that too, Meow, that in so many books, the main characters are rather bland compared to some supporting characters. But I still wonder if I can make her more unique. She isn't a Mary Sue but I would describe her as conservative. And none of the other characters are.
     
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  17. Millyme11

    Millyme11 Member

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    I think if the MC was too quirky and not 'average' then the readers wouldn't be able to print themselves on to the character. When I'm reading a novel I often feel like (even in 3rd person) that I am the MC and that everything is happening to me as it is to the MC. If the MC is more average, then it feels like 'hey, that could be me'. I prefer that rather than someone too extraordinary that makes me feel that I'd never be able be in their shoes, that I could never understand them. If you get where I'm coming from.
     
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  18. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    Have her be the one annoyed by those traits, the straight face against their hilarity. If you have funny and quirky covered, you don't need to retread. Make the foil of what they are.
     
  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe your problem is with the mothering role--maybe you can't imagine a mother as interesting?
     
  20. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    1) Is it possible that your POV character doesn't actually have to be the main character? Maybe she's a John Watson surrounded by a bunch of Sherlock Holmeses? That's what I'm doing in my WIP.

    2) Are any of your "unique" characters unique in conflicting ways that require your better-balanced POV character to be the Kirk to their Spock and McCoy?

    3) Give it time ;) My characters always start out really bland before becoming more and more distinctive.

    Over the last year of my Urban Fantasy writing, secondary protagonist Amy Carmine has grown from "bank robber who's going to learn magic" to "post-traumatic serial killer turned drug ring enforcer turned bank robber who loves Futurist artwork, Sid Meier's Civilization III, military history, and who's going to learn Earth, Fire, and Metal magic."

    Just today, I realized that she probably quotes the 36 Stratagems on a regular basis.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
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  21. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    I had the same issue with my MC--he was really boring. I realized partway through my first draft that I had made him too "perfect" and I was too worried about writing him well to give him real emotion. Maybe you're having a similar problem? Give her fault(s) besides basic lying and secret-wielding or make those issues give her emotional depth. The characters you like you've made up on the spot, so try writing a scene where you're totally relaxed about your MC's personality and just see what comes out. Don't worry about keeping her in character or perfecting how you write her, just enjoy writing her.

    If all else fails, I've found that taking a break to focus on another character really helps. Usually I try writing a short story or something with a totally different character personality.

    I think MC's sometimes get boring because they're the ones we know the most about. I mean, throughout the book as a reader, and especially the writer, we're with them all the time. There's no mystery left, nothing to discover. The secondaries, meanwhile, leave much to the imagination, and thus are naturally more interesting.

    Just my opinion . . .
     
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  22. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    I don't doubt you can, and possibly just by adding some quirk or maybe a minor sub-plot that's a long running issue she has to contend with. I think the MC for my story is kinda' interesting, I may be biased, maybe because I see some of myself in them...who knows. Whenever you write, it is always about the writer in some way, doesn't matter the genre. Make sure you are connected to your MC in some way and things will be great.
     
  23. Malisky

    Malisky Fortune cookie Contributor

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    In which narrative is your story in? 1rst, 3rd limited or 3rd omniscient? I'm asking as to figure out a solution because depending on the narrative I got different solutions. For instance if it's on 1rst or 3rd limited then you got to find an interesting voice for your character. If it's on 3rd omni, then you got to find interesting actions and dialogues in order to make her stand out. Doesn't matter whether she's girly or tomboyish. Anything could work. This is just the base. A generalization. A character in a novel is always unique. Depends on the uniqueness of the imagination of the writer. So, let's begin from there and the rest will follow. Which one is it?
     
  24. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    For me, a first person POV story lives and dies with the character telling it. There has to be something interesting about them, something they bring to the narration, otherwise it may as well be written in third person. But that doesn't meant they need to be manic pixie girl levels of unique.

    It can be as simple as little quirks, habits, or stories. Every time she sees wild flowers on the side of the road, she thinks of the time she brought her mother wildflowers when she was sick thinking it would make her feel better, only her mother had allergies and it accidentally made things worse. Or she's always low-key reading parenting books because she's not sure how to be a mother figure to her younger sister.

    Think less in "types" and more in the smaller aspects of personality. Does she get embarrassed easily? What does she do when she feels sad? What fears does she have for the future? Does she have any nervous tics? That kind of thing. It'll do a lot more to endear her to the reader that trying to force her to be unique.
     
  25. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    If you give your MC first dibs on the coolest ideas, there should be no chance of her being a bore, no matter what.
     

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