Saturday, April 8, 2017

A to Z: Good Guys

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.

We covered the bad guys, but what about the Good Guys? And yes, I'm going to acknowledge that we've met our requirement for G and go forward calling them protagonists to save what little sanity I have.

You know your protagonist well. They've been speaking in your head for months/years. You know they're favorite color, that they have a secret craving for salty foods, and prefer comfortable clothes over fashion. But you may not have noticed that they shrug all the time and say half their dialogue with a smile. That they have paragraphs of dialogue lines and everyone else is relegated to three word responses. We seem to know every detail of what they are wearing but everyone else is just a talking head. You may be showing a smidge of favoritism to your protagonist and may need to take a pass or two to spread the love to your other characters.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may know your protagonist so well, that you're not taking the time to share some of those endearing facts with the rest of us. This can make your protagonist hard to like as they ram their way through the plot "because I'm telling you they're super awesome!". We need to be shown what kind of person they are throughout the story, especially in the opening chapters where we should be getting attached to them.

Some things that make a protagonist relatable - a.k.a things you can do to make readers not hate your protagonist (because I don't know about you, but I've read a few books where I'm cheering for the antagonist to win by chapter three).
  • Give them a flaw or three
  • Let them doubt themselves now and then
  • Let them make mistakes
  • On occasion, have them say what's on their mind rather than just think what they should say.
  • Make sure they are taking an active role in accomplishing their goal rather than relying on others
  • Give them one thing they are good at, even if its just being in the wrong place at the wrong time
  • Don't be afraid to make them a bit quirky, funny, odd, sad...anything that makes them feel real.
What is your favorite character quirk or thing that you like to know about a protagonist?


  1. Excellent points. I think one of the primary reasons I've tossed books into my DNF pile is due to unlikeable main characters. Flawed it good—we can all relate to that. Being a downright jerk is not so good.

  2. FABULOUS! you are writing THE THINGS to keep in mind to create endearing, interesting characters and stories! i agree with your points.. characters must be real, with quirks. I like my characters to have a favorite food or a cliche which just fits right in!

  3. Good thoughts as I move around the A-Z folks. Make sure you're "Good Guys" have some faults, too.

  4. You're so right about 'a flaw or three'. One thing I love about thrillers is that the super-human hero is flawed, dangerously at times. Makes everything more interesting.

  5. Thank you for the suggestions!!! I good guy is not perfect, but, because of that, usually to the reader's eyes, they are perfect even with the flaws and that is what make them real!

  6. I do prefer good guys that I can relate to over the perfect ones. I am flawed so it is better for me if they are flawed. Good suggestions!

    Emily | AtoZ | My Life In Ecuador

  7. Hi Jean - no-one is perfect and without flaws ... not even the good man!!!! Cheers Hilary

  8. Just found your blog. Great writing tips! I'm a fiction author and I often have trouble with the Hero...seems like the other characters are more interesting...

  9. Great tip about under-description. Sometimes they are so familiar to us in our own head that we forget to describe them to others. At least mine have mistakes coming out of their ears. They take after me in that respect!

  10. Good tips to keep in mind! Thanks.

    G: Galapagos & Glacier Nat'l Park
    DB McNicol, author & traveler
    Theme: Oh, the places we will go!

  11. Good point that as well as over describing, you can leave too much in your head. That's one of the reasons I don't share my story, or characters with my beta (except for the odd mention) until after they've read it, just to make sure. Nice list of suggestions, too, thanks.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries


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