It’s been a while since I created a post on writing theory. Bad llama.


As I sit here in the library, I am surrounded by books that are all saying the same thing. Listen to the protagonist.

There is no such thing as fiction without a protagonist. The story has to be about someone, or we don’t care. How much we care is one of the main reasons we follow the story. If I don’t care about the main character, it doesn’t matter how great the world or story is, my soul won’t be tugged along for an incredible journey.

Again, from the insight of Brandon Sanderson and Robert McKee, here are traits that make a protagonist worth following.

  • They should never be perfect. In order for us to really feel for them, to feel that we are them, they need to be flawed and hurting. They need to be an underdog. 
  • They must have a personal attachment, a goal that they are pursuing. The story is about the protagonists desire. 
  • They must have the willpower to pursue that goal to the end. Flabby characters don’t make heroines.
  • They have the chance to obtain their object of desire.
  • They have the capacity to pursue their desire convincingly.
  • They are at least as proactive as the villain. Keep away from I-only-react heroes.
  • Take us into their goodness. What is good, commendable about them? Bleach out the ensemble if necessary. Make them a light that draws us. We are drawn to goodness. Let us see beauty in them.

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