How to Work On the Protagonist When Writing a Book

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How to Work On the Protagonist When Writing a Book


Undoubtedly, a bright and colorful protagonist is one of the key elements for the success of the narrative. But how to make him/her exciting? Are there any win-win options? Today, I’m going to share with you both some insights that you might not be aware of.

#1 Appearance Description

In fact, that’s the point where the hero appears to the public. Well-placed accents and memorable elements greatly intensify the imagination of the reader and revive the image of the character. Although the appearance may be unimportant for the protagonist himself due to the focus of attention on his motivation and inner word, it does important for secondary characters, especially if the book world is densely populated.

However, you shouldn’t go into extremes when describing the appearance. Some authors are so fond of descriptions that it goes beyond any reasonable limits. The half a page physical description of the hero is already too much although a hundred years ago detailed portrait sketches were in trend among classics.

Well, the times are changing, and the modern writer should be able to identify the most important, that is the traits and characteristics that distinguish the protagonist from the crowd. That’s why it is unlikely someone will be interested to know the color of socks of your hero – unless, of course, they are for some reason different and are in contrast to other characters.

#2 Actions

Actions reveal the character’s personality. If there are no actions, there is no character. Although we can judge the hero by the lack of action, would it be interesting? Thus, the main character must take any actions, and it does not matter whether they are right or wrong, humane or inhumane. The key thing is to evoke certain emotions. If the reader empathizes or condemns, you’re halfway there!

Sadly, but till present, I find stories in which the protagonist does not perform any actions. Yes, sometimes he experiences adventures, but even in these cases, he doesn’t move the story. He just goes with the flow. Yes, sometimes fighting for his life. But what’s surprising here if in any case, the author will save his life until the end of the book?

So if you want to get a live hero, make sure he makes choices and decisions and is an initiator of at least part of the events of the story.

#3 Author’s Opinion

This is an extremely subtle thing. The writer acts as the impartial narrator. Bringing into the narrative his opinion, he can diversify the situation, no matter how mundane and boring it may be. After all, who knows the characters better than the author who invented them?

The opinion of the author is extremely powerful and rather original way of revealing certain facets of the character. You don’t need to give any long and multi-page psychological characteristics – sometimes one phrase is enough to indicate the attitude toward an act or behavior of the character.

Of course, all this should be well-thought, neat, and harmonious. It’s pretty interesting and, most importantly, new way that you can use in your book.


#4 The Opinion of the Other Characters

For example, if the secondary characters treat the protagonist with reverence and respect, we believe that there’s some significant occasion. And if they disregard his opinion, then the hero either failed to get trust and respect or somehow managed to lose it.

There can’t be a situation when everyone treats the main character the same way. Even if he is humane and kind or, on the contrary, terribly cruel and evil. Try to implant all the nuances of human relationships in your book. For clarity, you can draw a diagram marking all of the characters and the relationship between them.

#5 The Protagonist’s Thoughts

That’s the easiest way to convey the hero’s motives, desires, dreams, and hence his nature. He can ponder, think, make plans, and all of this plays for the idea to display the character as a real person. Thoughts and internal monolog of the hero in this sense is a very effective weapon.

Also, there’s a common trick when the author inserts the hero’s thoughts on a course of action or dialogue – often with the intention that these thoughts reveal the meaning of what was done from a different angle. In this case, the character could describe oneself or events happening around in the most unexpected way. Both, of course, reveal his character. It is worth noting that sometimes such a technique can make the most boring scene indescribable and sparkling.


#6 The Protagonist’s Speech

The speech of the protagonist is closely connected to his thoughts; however, as I noted above, it’s not always their explicit incarnation. Well, the more interesting the dissonance, in which the hero says one thing and thinks another.

In classic cases, the hero’s speech is the embodiment of his thoughts and a mean of communication with the outside world. The propensity to talk or fear, as well as confidence and confusion, are the vivid details that help to draw the character.

Of course, speech is also an integral part of the dialogues, which, in turn, can take up to half of the volume of the book. That is why work on the speech of the character is extremely important. It includes both the stream of thoughts and motives and immediate response to incoming information, someone else’s speech. Please keep in mind these two considerations when working on the dialogues.

That is, in a conversation, the hero should define his values, interests, motives, and also give a reaction to someone else’s speech. Following these simple rules will be the first and very important step to creating a believable image of the character through speech.


Lucy Adams is a blogger and writer from BuzzEssay, a service where professionals write custom essays at the lowest price. She’s very responsive and always in touch, so, be sure, you’ll get a very fast and grounded response to your each and every request. Lucy is a generalist; she covers a wide range of topics, from education and writing to psychology. Thus, you can’t know the decision until you ping the author. By the way, blog posts are free.

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