Getting Personal With Your Protagonist

Happy Friday Everyone!!

Today I just want to touch on something that has become a HUGE part of my writing process.

Getting To Know My Protagonist.

Sounds easy, huh? There are worksheets and interviews you can do to “understand” this character you’ve created.

But, I venture to say that this process is deeper than most beginning writers expect. It was MUCH deeper than I expected. 

Why? Because when we create these characters, many of us writers turn to the best source of internal conflict we have: Ourselves.

My main character shares many of my flaws: she’s impatient and impulsive, has to be in control, doubts herself and her ability, has little fear of things she should have fear of, (things she can’t, I don’t know…the Ocean), yet fears the things she can control…like me not finishing this book (no one’s control but my own yet I worry about not completing it every day)…weird I know. She also has to work at not being an introvert and hates the thoughts of being confined in small places.

These things mean a lot, because as I write her working through each of these issues, I am forced to study myself.

But…flaws make characters interesting, and the better we understand the flaws, the better we can write them, thus making one hell of a deep character if we dig deep enough. But…don’t just pull out the flawed parts. Also bring to light the good things…the things that make you strong.

My MC is resilient, tenacious, fiercely loyal and selfless. She learns to fight for what she wants and also learns to conquer her own issues. (Like me conquering my own self doubts and fears and finishing this book). It’s a pretty deep journey into the soul if you allow it.

So…My advice if you are struggling with getting to know your main character is: Get to know yourself.

Have a happy weekend!!


What about you? Do your characters have anything in common with you?

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  1. Hey, you just described me! Earlier this month I listened to a Laurie Halse Anderson workshop in which she described the fear that sometimes keeps us from writing. One of the things she mentioned was that writing is scary because we have to dive deep and expose our own demons.

    My characters have a lot in common with me, but they're so much smarter. ^_^

  2. Yep! Our characters are always a part of us. The good and the not so good. I agree that you can find out about your MC by looking at yourself – and even scarier – the opposite is also true. Eeek!

    Great post!

  3. I have a sheaf of character worksheets that I pull out during November for NaNoWriMo, but I hadn't thought of linking to them on my blog. I'm planning to do a "plan your novel" series leading up to November, so maybe I'll do that.

    You really can't write your book until you know your main character. Her voice (or his voice) will guide everything you write.