Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How to Create Unique Protagonists

Creating unique protagonists

I've been prepping for my personal NaNoWriMo challenge and while sorting through the different story ideas that I have, I have realized that my protagonists are all basically the same person. So I'm thinking to myself, what can I do about this?

I guess I never really imagined that anyone would actually read all these different stories, so I never really thought about the fact that I always used the same default as the main character.  Lots of times I even think about the characters by the same name.  Now that I'm thinking I might actually try to get some of these published, I should probably make sure the characters are unique and interesting in their own ways.

Here's a few things that I did to try to differentiate my protagonists:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a breakdown of 16 different personality types based on Carl Jung's theories. It's actually a test your supposed to take to determine your own personality type, but it is also something authors use to determine their character's personality types. This site had a nice breakdown of what the different types are:

I also liked looking through this chart:

It's the same kind of idea - to get you thinking about different personalities and really narrow down the differences between different characters.  If you can put them into different general categories, then you can start narrowing down the differences and developing more diverse and complex characters.

Flaws and Quirks

Every good character needs a flaw, and quirks make them interesting. Thinking about their quirks or flaws is like thinking about what makes them different from others.  Through Pinterest I found a really nice list of character flaws and it even has definitions for each:

Reading through this list I got to thinking about what flaws sounded interesting, and what characters I could make fit with some of those flaws. 

Writer's don't quit


Do your characters all look the same?  Cause they probably shouldn't.  Give them different hair colors, different styles and see what happens. 

Pinterest is also a great tool for thinking about character appearances.  My board, Character Inspiration, I have ideas for outfits, poses and faces. She's Novel has lots of different boards devoted to different types of character inspiration. 


Yay worksheets! There's lots of different worksheets out there to try to help you get to know your characters.  I've compiled a few myself, that's kind of a mishmash of all the different ones I've found (see below).

Here are some of the sources for my worksheets, and they have some good ones too:

     Blank Character Cheat Sheet
     What do you know about your characters?
     Gotham Character Questionnaire

She's Novel has loads of great worksheets for writers but here's one in particular on characters:
    33 Ways to Write Stronger Characters

And here are a few I have compiled after looking through all of those and more:

General Overview



Personality - 2 Pages

Any one else have trouble creating unique protagonists?  Any tips to share?

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