Friday, March 31, 2017

know your protagonist

Creating a biography for your protagonist is an important facet of beginning to write your novel. It’s good to know your main character as completely as you know your best friend. Of course, it’s a gradual process. Indeed, you got to know your best friend a little at a time.
My initial bio of Veronica Slate, the series main character who appeared in my first three published books, ran about two pages single-spaced. By the time I wrote the third book, it was up to 50 pages, single-spaced. It covered every important year from her birth to the time of the book. I knew where she was born, where she went to school, where she worked through the years, whom she dated, what her hobbies and interests are. In short, I knew as much as it was possible to know about Veronica Slate.

You don’t have to create a 50-page bio before you begin writing a book, but at least create a shorter one, confident that you can add to it as you write the book; as you learn more about your main character.

An important key to creating a fictional character who comes to life and seems real to your readers is knowing the protagonist's self-concept. All human beings have their own idea of who they are, their own self-concept. As a rule, people behave consistently with this self-concept. When they don’t, there’s conflict in their lives. [And conflict is what drives fiction.]
For example; I see myself as being sensitive, understanding, hard-working, and not afraid to cry. That’s my self-concept. If I ignore someone’s cry for help, or start a fight, or behave in a macho, selfish way, it bothers me because I have violated my self-concept.
As part of creating a character for your fiction, it helps to know what that character’s self-concept is; how he or she sees himself or herself.

My first protagonist was Veronica (8 letters) my second was Tasker (6 letters) and my current main character is Ryan (4 letters). Notice a trend here? You try typing Veronica more than 600 times in a book and you will soon consider calling your main character “Al.”
Seriously, for naming characters, I use names from obituaries, phone books, movie credits, and lists of people who didn't pay their water bills. (No kidding. A local weekly newspaper prints such a list.)

I recommend most highly The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook (2nd Edition) by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
It contains more than 20,000 first and last names and their meanings from around the world, special advice for choosing historical, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and action names, and valuable instruction for naming your setting.
(ISBN-13: 978-1582979205  ISBN-10: 1582979200)
 Price: $16.14 Writer's Digest Books  
   Kindle Price: $6.75

----- (From NOVEL SECRETS available in paperback and Kindle form.)

Lary Crews