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Not too good, not too bad: How to create the perfect main character

You can’t have a story without a main character, which is probably why one of the most important things about writing a book is creating the perfect leading lady (or dude). Once you've thought of an awesome idea, that's when it's time to start considering your main character.

 

Be creative

Who wants to read a book where the main character is boring? Pick one cool thing to make him or her stand out. You know, a superpower, a talent, anything that sets them apart from the crowd. Think about this: Why is this story about this particular character, rather than the one sitting across from her in math class? What makes her special?

 

Make sure readers can relate

When your readers can relate to the main character, it makes it so much better. They’ll put themselves into their shoes, and they can really get lost in the book. Even if you're writing a completely fictional story, for example, if you're protagonist is a superhero, you can still find something your readers can relate to--an achilles heel, a weakness for Cheetos, anything. It can be something small or something enormous, but whatever it is, it's important to include it.

 

Be descriptive

When you’re reading a book, you always have a vision of what the character looks like, right? That’s because the author most likely described the character in detail. Simply saying “blond hair and blue eyes” isn’t enough. You’ve gotta give great descriptions that let your readers picture the characters.

 

Show, don’t tell

Sure, you can say, “She’s really nice and smart.” But when you’re writing a book, you can’t be so straightforward. Rather than saying how the character is, you have to show your readers. For example, if you want them to know your character is smart, write about the time she won the spelling bee or got a perfect score on the SATs. Whatever it is, show it, don't say it.

 

Think of the perfect name

Try not to use a name that’s already been used. Then, if your readers have already read the book or seen the movie, they’re gonna picture your character just like the other one that they already know. And that’s definitely not what you want. You want your readers to know that your character is a whole new person. For example, if you read a book with a character named Hermione, you’d be picturing Hermione Granger the whole time, right?! You’ll have the best luck with thinking of your very own name.

published May 06, 2014
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