Favourite Female Protagonist

May 20, 2010 at 5:50 am (Character, fiction) (, , , , , , , )

I love reading books with interesting female protagonists.  Anything other than the basic damsel in distress works for me. Strong, funny, awkward, shy, as long as they feel fresh and unique. What I want to know is who are your favourite female protagonists from books or movies.

So…if you’re interested create a post sharing your favourite female protagonist and then add your link to the list.  Let’s see how many female protagonists we can list.

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5 Things Your Protagonist Probably Shouldn’t Do

May 17, 2010 at 5:50 am (Character, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Unless, of course, there is a valid reason.

Under most circumstances these are 5 things that protagonists shouldn’t be getting up to.

1.  Waiting for another character to solve all of the problems and hand them a nice tidy package.  I’m not pointing fingers at any single, scarred, boy wizard for this one (in one of his later books), but protagonists should be actively involved in trying to work through the conflicts, not passively sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to tag them and say that it is now time for them to get involved.

2.  Getting over things. This one is something I’ve found in quite a few stories that I’ve started reading and then abandoned. Midway through a major conflict the character just get’s over it and decides that something is no longer important.  If your protagonist gives up caring about a problem, odds are the reader is going to as well.

3.  Getting side tracked and never returning to the original complication. Yes, side plots are great but if your protagonist gets tangled up in a side plot to the point where the original problem is left dangling and never resolved then this is going to bother your reader.

4.  Have a personality transplant midstory.  There is a difference between developing a character and throwing out a character midway through the plot and suddenly having a doppelgänger with the same name but no other resemblance to the original character running around.

5.  Drop dead in the second act. By all means, kill your protagonist off if the story calls for it, but if we’ve been following this character so far and now they are dead and there is still almost a third of the story to go, as reader’s we are going to feel resentful.

What do you think?  Is there any thing your protagonist should just not do?

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So Many Faces

December 19, 2009 at 5:15 am (Character, Thoughts on Writing, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

My kind-of Christams post with a kind-of link to character creation.

Do you watch people when they open presents?

I don’t mean in the creepy-judgemental way where you glare at them until they manage to contort their face until an ‘appropriate’ expression of gratitude.  I meant the general, I’m intereseted in what you think kind of way.

People receive gifts in a few different ways depending on the situation.  This is my list of observed typical reactions:

  1. They know what the gift is in advance and are happy to be receiving it.  These people are grinning broadly before they even begin to unwrap.  They might rattle the packet a bit and make comments like, “I wonder what this could be?” but when they finally open the present they give it a quick look over, hug the person who gave it to them and move on to the next gift.
  2. They know what the gift is in advance and think it is the worst idea for a present they ever heard.  They also make comments along the lines of “I wonder what this could be?” but there is a definite sense that they are grinding their teeth at the ridiculousness of having to play through the charade of opening the gift.  Once opened they might say “Oh look, its a…” then they also put it to the side and move on but they don’t hug the person who gave it to them.
  3. They think they know what the gift is in advance and are happy about it.  They grin as they pull the paper back but then their face kind of freezes into the ‘oh’ kind of expression.  It doesn’t matter whether they like the actual gift or not there are a few moments of dead time while their brain attempts to shift gears.  Finally they decide whether they like or hate the gift and react accordingly.
  4. They have no idea what the gift is and love it.  The squeal with delight, and busily turn it over and over examining what it is and thinking about where it will go and when they can use it.
  5. They have no idea what the gift is and neither love nor hate it.  They thank the person politely and move to the next one.
  6. They have no idea what the gift is and really can’t believe someone just gave it to them.  I’ve seen two distinct reactions to this scenario.  The usual one is the forced smile and the forced “thanks” meanwhile this gift isn’t stacked neatly to the side, it is usually just slid along the floor, usually in the direction of the paper pile with the false hope that maybe it will vanish.  The second reaction is the “what am I going to do with this” reaction which never seems to go down well.

Yes there are other ways to receive gifts but these are the typical reactions.  What does this have to do with writing?

Simple.

Your characters react to situations.  Reactions that fit within typical and expected models don’t require a huge amount of explanation as to why the character reacts in that way.  Their dog just dropped a dead mouse at their feet.  They say “Eww gross” – they are probably a female or a more urban male and they get squeamish around dead things. Nothing really needs to be explained.  They kick it aside – they are either male or female and are trying to get the thing out of their sight but at the same time not react verbally because that might show them as weak.  Again, not much to explain.  They pick it up and decide to place it on their desk – you best explain this one because I don’t think the reader is going to understand why anyone would do that.

So – your protagonist was given a gift for christmas.  What was it and how did they react?  (Mine firstly asked for an in-depth explanation of what Christmas was including references that she could look up to verify my facts and then she stared at me blankly over the wrapping paper before asking me “Why do you think I need a hairbrush?”)

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