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Friday, June 5, 2015

Is your main character weird? Make him/her so

Normal doesn't sell books. No one cares to read about the mundane exploits of a stock character with vanilla mannerisms and a boring personality. If your protagonist could be any person you'd see on the subway and not give a second look to, you've got a problem.

Now, I'm not talking about physical characteristics. You don't have to immediately rewrite your precious star to suddenly be missing an ear or have a third leg growing from their forehead. I'm just suggesting you give them a quirk. Or several. Set them apart from the crowd and your readers will not be able to forget them.

The main character in my novel I Will Follow, Jude, took a page from my own life (pun completely intended). See, every since I can remember, I have the habit of uncontrollably taking paper napkins and unfolding them and then refolding them inside out before I use them. I don't know why I do it, but I have since I was a kid. And Jude does the same thing. It's only mentioned a few times in the book, but it makes him relatable. It makes him human rather than merely "the guy in the book."

People want to know that they are not the only ones who possess the little idiosyncrasies that make us all unique. We all do or say something that makes us who we are. Let your characters stand out with that same behavior.

You could have your protagonist sneeze every time someone near them says 'hello.' Maybe they wipe off their utensils before they eat. Every. Single. Time. I know at least three people in real life who do that. Or maybe your antagonist secretly cries in solitude after they verbally assault someone. Or they have to wear a red shirt every Thursday. You get the idea.

Give your character some character. Make them unique and your audience will not only understand them better, they won't be able to forget them.

Until next time, keep those keyboards warm.


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