1. Levelskid

    Levelskid New Member

    Mar 26, 2016
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    Main character musts

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Levelskid, Mar 27, 2016.

    What traits must a main character have to be a well rounded, likeable person that go over well with readers?
  2. PBNJDraftNumbA

    PBNJDraftNumbA Member

    Feb 26, 2016
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    You are going to get a million answers. I think "goes over well"-- for me-- means a bit of genuine humor is involved in one's nature.

    I had an overseer who was real sincere, charismatic, spoke to encourage. But then he'd also stir his coffee with his glasses. That is funny! It is odd, but it is human. People have quirks, favorite characters should.

    By the way, thanks for the question. I will be reading the comments.
    Levelskid likes this.
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    Well...see, I don't really think that a character has to be well rounded, in the sense of a well rounded person (as opposed to a believable character), or that they have to be likable.

    They have to be interesting to the reader--the reader has to want to know what's going to happen to them, or has to enjoy traveling through the story with them, or ideally both. But that's not the same as liking them.

    And the mix of traits is different for every character. You can't really say, "What ingredients must a recipe have in order to be a delicious, appealing dish that will go over well with diners?" The ingredients will be different for every dish.

    The character has to be interesting. At least a little unexpected. Not so perfect as to be boring. Not so evil or dreadful or annoying as to want to make the reader want to flee. Not so content as to make the reader wonder why the story is wasting words on them. Not so miserable as to, again, make the reader want to flee because empathy is making them miserable as well. Not so incomprehensible that the reader is always puzzled. Not so transparently obvious that the reader feels that they have no analysis to do. It's all a balance.
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  4. Miller0700

    Miller0700 Contributor Contributor

    Jan 27, 2016
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    Philadelphia, PA
    They need an arc. They can't be the same person from beginning to the end of the story. They need to change due to internal or external stimuli from the story itself.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
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  5. Sundowner

    Sundowner Active Member

    Feb 23, 2015
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    World Marshal Inc.
    I usually like my main characters to be Jonathan Joestar. If they aren't Jonathan Joestar then I usually just put the book down and read something else where Jonathan Joestar is the main character.
  6. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

    Dec 31, 2015
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    Every main character must have a conflict and must be imperfect. Or to put it another way, they must have a reason to be in the plot and room to grow as a character. That's about all that you can say though. The interesting part is how you show these things.
    Levelskid likes this.
  7. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

    Jan 11, 2015
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    The presence of Y'golonac
    Plot: Your character must have agency within the story you are writing. They must have the power to change or drive the narrative, with their actions moving events and affecting those around them. The story is about them. They are The One. They are the Kwisatz Haderach.

    Setting: Your character must be a part of the world you create. Not necessarily a desirable person, but a realistic member of the nation, cultures, or groups around them. They have to be of the world, by the world, for the world, even if they oppose the world. Your setting is a stage, and they are an actor. They have to have a reason for ending up in the spotlight.

    Characters: Your character must be one of many. A main character is framed to be the focus of a narrative, but a simple shift will reveal a brave soldier, a father and husband, struggling beneath the Harkonnen whips, a truck driver pondering picking up a hitch-hiking Hulk, or a mother running from Americans as they paradrop into Normandy.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
    Simpson17866, 123456789 and Levelskid like this.
  8. Roberta Parsnip

    Roberta Parsnip New Member

    Jun 23, 2015
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    My personal list of protagonist musts (which some can even go for all sorts of characters.)

    1. They must have a goal, a motive and a conflict. Otherwise, what's the point? If they're not out to actually accomplish something and have a reason for doing it, then it's just kind of blah. And then there needs to be some kind of obstacle otherwise it would have been done already. If it wasn't for the labyrinth, then the Minotaur would already be dead. So there gotta be something standing in their way.

    2. They have to have an actual start point. Most protagonists start their story where the reader sees what their lives look like. We see the kind of things they do, what kind of attitudes they have, if they have hopes and dreams and if there's people they care about. Only when we establish this, then does the author throw something in there to completely screw everything up for them. Sometimes authors want to throw their characters right in the thick of things. Okay, but maybe we need to know who we're suppose to care about too, huh? It kind of helps.

    3. Finally, they have to have a low point. A part in the story where everything seems as though it is utterly lost. Where things are questioned. Maybe they start to rethink things.

    4. A satisfying resolution. I've seen plenty of stories that are going great, but then it's obvious the writer doesn't have a clue how to actually end things. It's not so much that a prefer a sad ending over a happy one or a bitter sweet one or whatever. It's so much that the story actually ends on some kind of satisfying note. Even stories with multiple books in its saga, should have a beginning, middle and end in each section.

    I also think that too much is put on making characters "likable" per se than it is just to make them developed. Most people are surprised to know I did not like Katniss from the Hunger Games. I related to her. That's a little different. I liked the characters in Star Wars Episode VII. They were funny. They had good chemistry. Katiness? No. She was just moody. But I was willing to read the whole trilogy because I related to her. And that's sometimes enough. At least for me.
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  9. Kayla Hicks

    Kayla Hicks New Member

    Apr 10, 2016
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    I agree that you will receive many different answers. Personally I think that a character that has humor and can offer something that everyone can relate to whether it be a skill, bad habit or shared interest. That will help to win many readers over. It also helps to make sure you have a target audience, this will help you to refine that even more. Are you aiming for teens, adults, a housewife, a booming business executive or an older person entering retirement?
  10. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Here's my MC musts
    1. Good points - They have to have some. I'm not interested in a-hole characters.
    2. Weaknesses - I'm also not interested in superheros. The mc must have some important weaknesses that are going to make his journey difficult. He can't be stellar at everything or always have the 'proper' response.
    3. Desire(s) / Goals - he must want or desire something.
    4. Need - his need is different from his desire - everyone wants to be thin - not many people will admit to do that they need to exercise or change their diet in order to achieve it. This need is usually linked to a weakness - he needs to overcome something in order to reach his goal.
    5. Action - my mc usually needs to change up his actions in order to achieve his goal.
    6. Revelation - my mc should come to some kind of revelation about himself. He doesn't have to change and become good - he could realize his actions have thwarted his desire ( goal ) and he must live with the consequences.

    These are just the bones though. I like to really flesh out my characters with unusual details. Cause this list will give your character purpose but won't make him entirely distinguishable from someone else with the same goal. That's when I like to give my characters odd little quirks or traits or interests. In my WIP my mc loves nailing things to his wall. It's his surreal visual diary. That's part of what separates him from any other boy his age.
    Yoav likes this.

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