Sunday, 2 March 2014


In order to create a main character (protagonist), animate them, and stick with them for hundreds of pages, a writer has to like him/her and care about their fate.  Flesh out and breathe life into your character(s) by integrating some of these physical and personality traits:

  • Attachments with family members and/or friends or lack of attachments
  • Physical appearance and agility, e.g., nationality, height, weight, build, eye colour, facial characteristics, personal hygiene, walking gait, athletic ability
  • Reaction to their own or others' attire or appearance
  • Pet and/or lover of children or not 
  •  Likes, dislikes; gender preference; phobia, addiction, mannerism; nervous habit(s) 
  •  Details of their living conditions, e.g., expensive or low income housing; sparse versus opulent furnishings; good location or bad 
  •  Preference for modes of travel 
  •  Favours a specific food, type of music, reading material, perfume or cologne, hobby,  favourite colour, or type of entertainment  
  •  Temperament, e.g., hot tempered or mild mannered; a worrier or laid back; jealous or not; optimistic or pessimistic; forgives or holds a grudge; brave or cowardly; cautious or a risk taker; romantic or pragmatic; optimistic or pessimistic 
  • Moral, religious, political, or ethical beliefs 
  • Type of employment or lack of a job; ambitious career aspirations or not  
  •  Self-image, e.g., confident or low self-esteem; shy or outgoing; likes their appearance or doesn’t  
  •  Speech patterns, e.g., an accent; uses creative vs. boring dialogue; use of profanity; correct vs. incorrect grammar; speaks clearly or mumbles  
  •  Criminal intent, i.e., breaks the law or is a law-abiding citizen  
  •  Highly educated; a school dropout; or self-educated  
  •  Prejudiced or liberal thinking; respectful of others or disrespectful; judgmental or tolerant  
  •  Competitive or a team player  
  •  Internal thoughts on life and aging  
  •  Short and long-term goals  
  •  Childhood history, e.g., supportive family life with good nurturing vs. abandonment or foster home conditions  
  •  A predatory nature or kind and supportive 
  • Afraid of weapons or passionate about them

Next, give your character(s) a name that suits them and is age appropriate.  Avoid selecting names that begin with the same initial for more than one character. 

Congratulations, now your readers will find your protagonist as fascinating as you do.

Donna J. Warner

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