LESSON Character Design: Creating the Protagonist

Discussion in 'DEVELOPING CHARACTERS & CULTURES' started by Bob Ross, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. A protagonist is a person that is the main character of the story. most of the time. This short article will be about what you can do to make them more memorable. Remember, just like for the antagonist, the whole clichéd and the whole “necessary” good leaves you with an unmemorable, 2D figure. This is a list of what one should take into account about trying to create a protagonist that isn’t your anime or cartoon super hero:

    *A memorable protagonist will of course be funny, charming, polite, strong, forth right, strong, honest, capable and coordinated. Although everyone loves a story with a sensitive caring regular guy as hero, it’s generally the dark type appeals to a wider target zone. However avoid doing the ever popular "I don't give a shit" attitude. Your character is human and all humans have feelings and emotions.

    *They start off as a someone that is in over their heads because they have no idea what they are doing. However, over time take time to make them mature. The biggest issues with shows like Pokemon or other animes is that the main character always has and always will be a moron. Their journeys across the pages or posts that you read are what draws the reader into them. If they stay the same for too long it is a long and dragged out affair of nothingness.

    *Most importantly the heroes must be a symbol for something. Batman is pretty much a symbol of how someone can take revenge but then over turn their own pride and be out there to help.

    *Must be easy to relate to. You can’t just have someone or something that wants to save the day because they can. They need a unique reason behind their actions and why they do what they do. They should be flawed and hard to take serious most of the time, but still somehow pulls things off. The ones you feel like rooting for. Jason from the Greek legends is a good example of this, he is seriously flawed and is really a hard dude to get along with due to the fact that he uses other people to accomplish his dreams, whether it is Hercules or Medea.

    *Remember, one group’s heroes are often another group’s villains, example, Christopher Columbus, celebrated by Europeans and reviled by the earlier invaders of America. Medea is often considered a villain by the Greeks, yet in her homeland of Colchis she is considered a hero that brought the Western world back with her.

    *Has a combination of talent and direction and of course some inspiration and determination to keep them going. More than that, it's the ability to communicate their desires to the people they are trying to help, or trying to get to help them.

    * Let’s not leave out intense sexuality. One factor making these people heroic and sexy is their vulnerability regarding the people they care most about. They have an uncompromising passion and eventual undying love for their lovers, families, etc.

    *Can have face to face discussion with opponent. However try to avoid the anime style of wall to wall taunt of why the said antagonist is doing what they are doing.

    *Heroes will not always win, when creating characters we often over this fact. You are not always successful that things you do the first time, neither should your character. Cockiness is always a good way to break a hero’s ego, look at Anakin Skywalker. He stumbled so many times he became Darth Vader, assuming that he was doing the right thing.

    After that this leads us to physical qualities of the said hero. A good hero should be at least somewhat physically appealing. I mean who would find the Mole man, an attractive Hero? However, this does not necessarily mean that they have to be handsome or long haired. Most readers want height, dark hair, expressive eyes, and a lean and muscular body, look at Harry Potter. The character overall is a shrimp when the first book come out and then turned into the talk of the town. This is even better expressed in characters like Jack Sparrow, whom has quite a large fan base.

    These said “keeper” protagonists will somehow be able live up to the ideals of the Boy Scout code. They have the honor, veracity, vigor, a hint of danger, tenderness beneath the toughness, dependability, astuteness, sex appeal, a sense of humor, zeal, protectiveness, and valor. I'll use Fluffy's character Jon from Selina: The Flower of Carnage[/i] is a prime example of this. At first people will find him to be a dumb farm boy, as the plot unfolds we find that he develops and becomes more mature in his relationship to Selina and even to the other characters that he doesn’t get along with.

    As for a heroine, it will depend on the audience. Most males will want the standard generic anime girl with a boob size that matches up with their grade levels. However, since we are going beyond the basic level, we need to be more mature with the heroines. Many people ask me why I like to write as heroines. While that is that could be another topic in of itself, I simply find them to be more interesting. In reality, female heroes are really no different from males, minus the fact that they will not always try to fall for the “ideal man.”

    I will use Selina from Selina: The Flower of Carnage as my example. At first glance, she appears to be the standard bitchy girl with a great form. However, throwing in darker elements, she is in actuality very cunning in the things that she does. Selina has the power to think outside of the box and may not always be considered a likable character. That being said, a personality is needed for a heroine to be interesting.

    Summary: Protagonists are generally always the people you want to root for in a story. Most of the time, they are combined with elements from the main character and hero to make them more complete. They can be either gender but they all have a goal that you want to reach someday. They will not always win their struggles but that’s what their journey is for. More often than that they start off gun ho and then mature into more respectable beings. Hopefully this little article will help you with your idea babies!