Create a Main Character Readers Would Kill For

 I'll be posting these writing advice posts on Thursdays every week from now on. If you have any suggestions of topics you'd like to see me give advice about, message me on instagram!

These blog posts contain extra tips and way more text than I can fit in an instagram post. These longer blog posts also take way more effort and lots of time to put together, so if you find them helpful, let me know and I'll keep making them.

A lovable main character elicits empathy and emotional investment from the reader, which is exactly what you want if you're looking to create a story that's as impactful as it is page-turning.

So here are my 5 (yes, you get 1 extra tip in this blog post than on my instagram!) tips for creating a main character readers would kill for!

1. Make them vulnerable

Give them flaws, imperfections, and relatable problems that readers can identify with. A complex, weak and flawed character is much more interesting, easy to fall in love with, and relatable than a perfect, strong, one-dimensional character.

And don't just give them flaws that are surface-level, like clumsiness or trying too hard to please people. (Although these flaws might also be built into your character in a way that deeply affects them, those are just some character flaws I often see that are not usually executed in a good or meaningful way.)

When giving your characters flaws or traumas, make them affect the character deeply. If it doesn't affect the story, it's probably not a good enough flaw.

Make other characters underestimate them, hurt them, or question their abilities.

At the end of the day, your main character is just like your readers. They have fears, doubts, and weaknesses, just like everyone else.

By making your main character vulnerable, you're making them feel more like a real human. You are creating a relatable and likeable character that readers will connect with on a deep level. It's hard to relate to perfect people who are good at everything, or who are liked by everyone and never make embarrassing mistakes.

Readers will identify with and feel deep empathy for characters who are beaten down and shamed, forced to be vulnerable and weak.

So, don't be afraid to humiliate them! Show them in their weakest moments. The sooner in the story you can make your character seem vulnerable, the better!

Show their flaws, their missteps, and their moments of self-doubt. This will get your readers to want to protect your characters and eventually say they wish they could kill for them to finally, FINALLY be happy.

2. Show their motivations

A main character that is driven by a clear motivation is much more interesting and engaging than a character who lacks direction, so you want to make sure your main character has a clear objective that drives the story forward and gives them a sense of purpose.

When deciding on your character's goal, make it be something personal and specific instead of just "doing good" or "saving the world". Those goals just aren't good because they're impersonal and not very interesting. 

But if you go with a character that is saving the world (which is very common in fantasy especially), make their motivations reflect them and their backstory. 

Why they want what they want is often much more important than what they want.

One way to show your character's motivations is to have your character be active in making decisions that propel the plot forward. And to make things more interesting, you can have them make these choices based on their past, and based on their flawed way of thinking. 

In the first half of your story, or up until the climax of the story, your main character should be actively pursuing a goal that is in some way based on a false belief.

Show through their actions and words where their motivation comes from. Show us where your character's false belief comes from, and show them continuously making choices to get the end result that they want.

Readers want to see your character wanting something, fighting for something, and they want to see them succeed. So help us bond with your main character by showing us why your main character is doing what they are doing and what they hope to achieve.

3. Create meaningful relationships

A lovable main character's lovability can be increased by giving them connections to other characters. 

You can create meaningful relationships with supporting characters to give the main character depth and show readers what they care about. These relationships serve multiple purposes in fleshing out the main character and making them relatable to the reader, and some of them include showing their personality and values, providing conflict, and developing empathy both towards the main character, but also conveniently makes us care more about the side characters.

If they care about each other, then we as readers feel that maybe we should, too.

Relationships with other characters can reveal the main character's personality, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. For example, a character who is kind and empathetic towards others is more likely to be seen as a lovable protagonist, while a character who is selfish and uncaring is less likely to be endearing, but might also be very intriguing and fun to read about.

The relationships a character has show us what they value and care about. A character who places a high value on friendship is more likely to be lovable than a character who prioritises their own interests over others.

Relationships create conflict and challenges for the main character, which can add depth and complexity to their story arc. For example, a character who is torn between their loyalty to their friends and their desire to achieve their own goals can be very compelling.

Relationships with supporting characters can also help readers connect with the main character and understand their motivations and emotions on another level than just their inner monologue allows. When readers can see the world from the different perspectives of other characters, when your secondary or tertiary characters talk about them or treat them in certain ways, it makes readers see them as much more multi-faceted. 

And again, if other characters treat your main character poorly, it can help readers feel empathy and makes them bond with your main character.

4. Give them a unique voice

The voice of the main character sets the tone for the entire story. Giving your main character a unique voice that is distinct, engaging, and memorable will help readers connect with them and be more interested and invested in following their journey.

Have them repeat the same expressions throughout the story, use specific slang and even have a "catch phrase". Show them communicating in a way that's different from your other characters. Give them a quirky or unusual way of speaking, or have them speak in a different language or dialect. This can help set them apart and make them even more memorable to readers.

Another way to give your main character a unique voice is to pay attention to their manner of speaking and body language. For example, they might use gestures when they talk or have a habit of fidgeting when they're nervous. These small details can help paint a picture of the character and make them feel more real to the reader.

It's also important to consider the character's background and experiences when developing their voice. Where did they grow up? What kind of education did they receive? What have they been through in their life? All of these factors can influence the way a character speaks and can help make them feel more authentic.

Additionally, the character's emotional state should also play a role in how they speak. If they're angry or upset, their speech may become more clipped or terse. If they're excited or happy, their speech might be more animated. By showing how a character's emotional state affects their speech, you can give them a more dynamic and believable voice, that makes them feel more like real people that your readers will grow to love and adore.

5. Develop their backstory

Your character's backstory helps to flesh out your main character and provides context for their actions and motivations, their dialogue, relationships and so much more. By exploring a character's past in your story, you help readers better understand what has shaped them into who they are, why they behave the way they do, and most importantly, why they make the choices they make.

Having a clear understanding of their history can help make them feel like a fully realised character. A well-written backstory adds to the closeness and empathy your readers feel towards the character, and makes them more attached to the character.

A well-developed backstory helps readers understand where the main character came from, what shaped them, and why they are the way they are. Write out your character's backstory, and include important events, relationships, and experiences that have shaped them throughout their life. These can be small details or big, life-altering moments. Just make sure they are relevant to the story and add depth to the character.

Keep this backstory in mind as you write your story, but try to reveal it gradually, and not in the first chapter in a huge info dump. Try to sprinkle in your main character's backstory here and there, in a way that feels natural and that in some also way helps move the plot forward.

Lastly, backstories are just really freaking fun to write, and cool to discover. So make it count, and just have fun with it. Oh, and don't be afraid to make your character suffer. That's the whole point!

These were all my tips for creating a lovable, dynamic, interesting main character readers would kill for. If I missed anything, or if you have anything to add, let me know in the comments below, or send me a message on my instagram!

To support me in the creation of these advice posts and resources for writers, you can buy me a cup of tea on Ko-Fi!

Thank you for reading today's blog post! I hope it was helpful (at least it was for me)!

// Em 🌟

No comments:

Post a Comment