Building character

Now I’ve got your attention, the first port of call is to build the protagonist (your main character).

body building

The important traits of your protagonist should be:

  • They have a problem or need.
  • They have the ability to solve the problem, whether or not they know it (there’s usually more suspense if he doesn’t)
  • They have a character flaw to overcome to solve the problem, or win the reward.

Your main character should be someone the reader can identify and/or sympathise with. They should be near the top age of your intended readers. One exception  to this is in folktales. You should identify your characters with one or more telling details—a physical trait, a mannerism, a favourite phrase but a complete description is not really required.

Then, think about your secondary characters, which includes the main character’s friends and enemies.

Protagonist: Main character with flaws

Antagonist: Block the main character from reaching goals. (The Green Goblin in Spider-Man)

Allies: Assist the main character in reaching goals. (Robin in Batman)

Mentors: Wise characters that help the main character. (Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars)

Jokers: Lighten things up! Often the main character’s best friend is a joker. (Donkey in Shrek)

You can combine different types of characters to make them stronger.

A funny villain like Dr. Evil in Austin Powers:

Dr Evil

A mentor, like Hagrid from Harry Potter, who is also a joker:

Hagrid

A villain that becomes an ally and helps the main character solve the real problem such as Sloop from Spy Kids:

Floop

Strong secondary characters are important in all stories for all age ranges so it is worth spending time on creating them.

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