There is nothing more irritating than reading a great story with a great concept revolving around an atrocious protagonist. Protagonists stand at the center of every story and they determine the quality of any given book. Any competent author thinking about writing a book should understand the importance of creating intriguing, engaging and interesting protagonists. Of course simply understanding the importance of creating noteworthy characters isn’t enough. You must be able to craft out these characters within your story, and not everyone is capable of doing that.
That is what makes writing a book so challenging. Anyone can generate great ideas, especially about interesting protagonists. Execution is an entirely different ball game. If you are looking to create a good protagonist, you need to arm him or her with the right attributes. To do this, the following characteristics, in particular, should be emphasized:
- He or She is a Leader
Your protagonist needs to be a leader. That is the only way to move the story forward. This is especially true when writing a book with a plot that feeds on action. You need to give your protagonist the determination to act rather than waiting for things to happen. Leaders have responsibilities, and a leadership trait will add stakes to your protagonist’s mission. After all, as a leader, he/she has people to care for who he/she cannot afford to lose. Your leader can’t risk taking actions that will endanger them, and neither can he/she sit back and watch as they come under threat.
- He or She is Curious
Your protagonist needs some level of curiosity. As with leadership, this is the only way to maintain the progression of your story. Curiosity will drive your hero or heroine to seek out mysteries to solve and to test his /her mettle against the puzzles you put in his/her way. Curiosity will also drive your protagonist to act in a manner that gets him/her into trouble, unveils secrets and embroils him or her in unexpected adventures. Readers love protagonists that take action.
3). He or She is Empathic
Readers have to like your protagonist. The easiest way to make a protagonist likable is to give him/her an empathetic nature. Your protagonist must have people for whom his/her empathetic nature drives out their protective instincts. Eventually your fighter must be forced to act, not out of curiosity or a sense of duty but to protect or stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
It should be noted that a protagonist doesn’t have to be nice or kind to have empathy. In fact, a lot of books succeed in their narrative by taking unkind and harsh protagonists and giving them moments of empathy. There are so many unique approaches one can take for crafting a protagonist when writing a book.
- He or She Has a Duty to Fulfill
Duty accompanies empathy and leadership. It gives protagonists a purpose. This is why a lot of protagonists today are detectives, soldiers, doctors, kings, even thieves and the like. They must have a purpose for which they exist, even if it is selfish. They need to have a particular reason for surviving. Duty gives them that.
- He or She is Fearful of Something
A good protagonist must have something that frightens them. This can be an actual physical threat like an enemy combatant or a psychological fear such as the manifestation of a particular behavior. Fear makes protagonists fallible. It creates opportunities for them to fail. It also provides chances for them to rise, overcome their obstacles and grow in some sense as characters.
- He or She Has a Secret
When writing a book, try drip-feeding the characteristics of your protagonist. Open-book protagonists are too predictable. Predictability will only bore your readers and make them put down your book. So add mystery to your protagonist. If the protagonist is hiding something, readers want to know what it is and how it will affect the story. This will make readers want to unlock the mystery that surrounds him/her. There is no “slam dunk” formula for creating the perfect protagonist when writing a book. And throwing all of the aforementioned attributes together will not necessarily guarantee the conception of a decent protagonist. Know the direction of your story and craft your characters as if you were creating an art piece. You need the right components applied at the right time from the right perspective to produce the perfect product.