Monday, March 20, 2017

Creating a Main Character

How do you create a main character? It's one of the most important parts of your novel. After all, your protagonist is essential to the story. I've broken down the process into five easy steps.

Step 1: Choose the right character. It sounds obvious and easy, but it isn't always. Take it from the author who chose the wrong protagonist twice. Your protagonist should be the character that is the most central to the plot. The character without whom there would be no story. Just as there would be no Anne of Green Gables without Anne, your story should be dependent on your protagonist.

Step 2: Give them a backstory that's relevant to their role in the story. Your protagonist should have some reason to care about the story they're in, some reason for them to have the skills they use in the book, some reason for the plot to be relevant to the protagonist. For instance, Meg Murry has a reason to care about tessering about the universe and going to Camazotz because she wants to find her father who disappeared years before. It's a little harder in portal fantasy type storylines, but they still need a reason to care. Like how Lucy made friends with Mr. Tumnus and Edmund joined the White Witch. It involved their family personally.

Step 3: Create a well-rounded, three-dimensional character that's a product of their backstory. Your protagonist should be a realistic person. No one wants to read about cardboard cutouts. No one wants to read about Mr. Perfect. What readers want is a character who is real. Someone with strengths and weaknesses, personality and quirks, likes and dislikes, things they're interested in and things they couldn't care less about. And if a character is real, chances are, readers will care and find something to relate to.

Step 4: Get to know your character as a person. You can't write about someone you don't know. The way you get to know your character will probably be different from the next author, and that's okay. You could make up random scenes, write a character interview, fill out a character profile, imagine you are your character...the possibilities are endless. But you must know who your character is as a person.

Step 5: Write the book. A great protagonist is useless without a great story, so what are you waiting for? Go write!

Check out the rest of Indie e-Con at!

Vote for your favorite 2017 Indie e-Con Book Awards picks here!


  1. Great post! I wanted to ask you, how should the characters in any book respond to a death? I'm working on a character with a backstory of her parents being killed in an accident, and I'm having a hard time balancing her attitude towards it. I don't want her to be sad and mournful for the whole book, but I don't want it to seem like she doesn't care either. 😜 Any suggestions?

    1. That's a really good question, and I don't think there's one right answer. There are a lot of factors to consider, the primary ones being the character's personality and the circumstances they are in.

      SPOILERS FOR ILYON CHRONICLES When Kyrin's father died in The King's Scrolls, she and her family did spend a while grieving...there was quite a bit of crying and scenes like when they visited his grave. Since there's still action and danger, his death is not always the foremost thing on Kyrin's mind, but whenever there's a good reason for her to remember her father, she does, and she misses him. It isn't constant, and she still has happy moments too, but her father died and it left a hole in her life. END SPOILERS FOR ILYON CHRONICLES

      SPOILERS FOR CBS'S SCORPION In Scorpion, Walter's sister dies of complications from MS. Because Walter has a really hard time processing and showing/sharing emotions, it doesn't really seem to affect him at first. It kind of just happened. But when he's under emotional stress, he gets hyper-focused on work and acts like he doesn't care at all about what's bothering him. So that's kind of what he does for several episodes until he breaks down after he loses his pet ferret (long story) for a few minutes. After which, they have a sort of memorial for his sister and send her ashes into space (again, long story). Since then, life pretty much goes on, but they remember and miss her when appropriate. END SPOILERS FOR CBS'S SCORPION

      So really, just feel it out for the individual character and her unique circumstances. Let her remember and mourn them when appropriate, but don't be afraid to let her live normal life. There's always a hole left by the people that are gone, but life does go on too.

      And sorry for the super long comment. I can't seem to be concise. :P

  2. Great post! Creating a good main character is definitely super important. And I like what you said about choosing the right main character.


Share your thoughts! I love getting comments. Please keep them clean and relevant to the post. Thank you!