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Thursday, October 23, 2014
NaNoWriMo Boot Camp: Day 4
Some people like to think a hero is born special, a Chosen One with a destiny written in the stars. Some people think the hero is simply the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Maybe they're both right.
Either way, when you're writing a book, your Protagonist needs to be more than a character that actions happen around. A hero who only reacts to situations isn't very fun to read about. A hero who could be removed entirely from the book without changing it in the slightest is even worse.
So, before you decide if the color of your hero's eyes, let's figure out what your hero's strengths and flaws are. Shining blue eyes like icy tarns won't get your hero out of a dungeon, but lock picking skills, charm, and magic will.
Exercise 1: What are your hero's weaknesses?
- There's a special name for a protagonist with no flaws: Gary Stu (or Mary Sue if the protagonist is female). A flawless hero sounds fun, and most authors start with one because they're easy to write, but they don't make for good books.
- Clumsiness, not realizing everyone thinks they're beautiful, and crying at random times do not counts as weaknesses. Red hair is not a weakness. Being born rich and charitable is not a weakness. Get those ideas right out of your head.
- The hero's weaknesses will change over the course of the book, and they should relate in some way to what the character wants. If they want to win a battle, they'll should start out without weapons training.
- Make a list of 5-10 weaknesses your character could have.
Exercise 2: What are your hero's strengths?
- This comes second because part of the hero's character arc will be turning weaknesses into strengths. The weakling learns to fight, the timid child learns to speak with strength, ect ect ect.
- It is absolutely crucial that one of your character's strengths, learned or otherwise, is the key to solving all the problems in the book. The protagonist is a hero because they are the only person who can make everything better.
- If you're writing about a group than only with the group working in harmony can the villain be defeated.
- Make a list of 3-5 strengths. They don't need to have all of these in the opening chapter, or even the first book of the series, but decide what strength they'll have. You'll need it for setting up the plot twists later.
Exercise 3: When will your hero learn these things?
- Tell yourself the back story for the hero. It may never be part of the text, but you need to know these things.
- Where was the hero born? What was their childhood like? When did they learn these things that help them save the world?
Exercise 4: What is your hero's personality?
- What gets this person up in the morning? What's the drive behind all they do?
- Don't know? Try taking the Meyers-Briggs Personality Test for your character.
- Ask a lot of questions. The 100 Questions list is a bit long to do for every character, but give it to your primary protagonist and keep it for reference during NaNoWriMo.
Exercise 5: What is the One Thing?
- Every person has one thing. One line they won't cross. One thing they won't do. One thing they can't lose and stay sane.
- If your character has a line they won't cross, the climax of the book needs to push the hero until they think they must cross this line or fail. It's up to you whether they cross over, or find another way,
- If the protagonist has one thing they can't lose, threaten it. Take it away. Ruin that thing. It's up to you whether the hero will triumph or the loss, realize the One Thing wasn't that important, or recover their lost Precious in time.
NaNoWriMo Boot Camp Day 1: Establish a Baseline
NaNoWriMo Boot Camp Day 2: Finding a Plot
NaNoWriMo Boot Camp Day 3: The Antagonist
NaNoWriMo Boot Camp Day 4: The Protagonist
NaNoWriMo Boot Camp Day 5: Keep the Book Moving