06 October 2009

Help, my protagonists are two-dimensional

What can you do if your protagonists turn out a bit too two-dimensional. The problem, usually, is that they lack character. When I first started posting on WIT my protagonists were a bit like that.

The art of story telling is to reveal character. Remember, description is not character: how people react to events and what they do, is character so give them something to react to. Read your story again - what happens in your story to reveal the character of your protagonists and antagonists? Probably not enough if they seem a bit wooden.

The best way to reveal character is to introduce more conflict. A lot can be revealed about the character of our protagonists if we just place a few stumbling blocks in their way. Or, instead of two characters instantly liking each other, how about making them dislike each other or doubt each other’s motives. Think of your story as an assault course for your protagonists, and give them a good workout

Sometimes, when we have grown fond of our protagonists, we make life too easy for them. You’re a writer, so act like a Greek god and make life difficult for your protagonists (and antagonists); see how they react – they might surprise you, I hope they do.