How to write an interesting protagonist

Keep in mind, these are all general tricks and if you’re a good enough writer you can ignore all of these and still have an interesting protagonist.

First of all, don’t make them a Mary Sue or Gary Stu. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a character with zero flaws that everyone goes around talking about how they have zero flaws and that they’re the most perfect person to exist. Everything comes easy to the Mary Sue character, any hobby they pick up they are instantly the most talented at. The problem is that these characters are dull, and often irritating. As they never have to work hard to achieve anything, there’s never any sense of payoff for the reader.

Related to that, give your protagonist realistic flaws that they can grow from. The worst kind of flaw is one in which they can keep through the entire story. For example, in bad romance books the protagonist’s flaw is that they’re clumsy. That’s not a real flaw as it’s not something the protagonist can change about themselves or grow from. It’s a cutesy way to show the character isn’t perfect but without putting any effort it. Flaws should be something that the character can grow from or make them more realistic.

For the love of god, if they’re female, don’t make them beautiful but they don’t know it. This is such a lazy way to show a female character as humble by making them stunningly beautiful but unaware of their charms. Do they not own a mirror? Has no one in their entire life complimented them? It just doesn’t make sense and it’s better to steer clear of this trope.

On the subject of tropes, one easy way to make a protagonist interesting is by taking a trope and subverting it. For example, you could have a fifty year old banker who has a secret obsession with skateboarding. Or the motherly figure with nine kids does martial arts on the weekend. These subversions of tropes add a three dimensional nature to your protagonist and make the reader sympathise with them more.

WRITER’s NOTE:

This is just a part one. I think I’ll do a part two next week.

Writing Haiku

I sit at my desk,

Knowing my deadline’s ahead,

I need a coffee.

I promise I’ll write,

I’ll switch off the internet,

After one more meme.

Writer’s block hits me,

Like a ton of cement bricks,

Worth it, in the end.

WRITER’s NOTE:

I am drowning in work at the moment but instead of doing productive things I keep watching those weirdly satisfying videos. You know, the ones where they crush things up and shit. It is a complete waste of my time but it gives me a temporary rush of endorphins so I guess it’s worth it?

Types of Writers

I’m someone who obsesses over how other people write. It’s always fascinated me how so many people can have completely different writing habits. This is a selection of some of the more insane types of writers.

First, we have the researcher. This person is great for working out exactly what kind of pies they ate in 16th century England, but less good at actually writing. This is because whenever the start writing, they go to check some detail of their book on the internet and end up falling down a black hole of wikipidea searches. They also know a scary amount of realistic ways to murder someone. Plus, if you click on their bookmarks, they’ll have website after website filled with first-hand sources.

Next, we have the procrastinator. This person has dreams and aspirations of being a productive writer but always falls short. They carry around a cute little notebook and write down schedules for themselves that they’ll never follow. No matter how early they wake up, they’ll always end up writing at 1 AM, frantically trying to finish pages. Despite numerous attempts to get them to work, including downloading app-blockers and working in a place with no internet, they always find some way to distract themselves until their deadline looms menacingly over them.

In contrast to the procrastinator, we also have the insane routine person. They tend to be superstitious and if you mess up their routine, their instability may lead them to stabbing you. This person has some bizarre ritual that they need to complete before they can start writing, such as drinking apple cider vinegar and coffee and going for a ten mile run before beginning to write at 5 in the morning. There is no evidence whether any of this helps them, but they’re too entrenched in the habit to stop now.

Finally, we have the plotter. Before they’ve even started writing, they’ve planned every single detail, including all of their characters’ favourite colours. They don’t believe in going with the flow, preferring to have intricate layouts and maps of exactly how the plot and the characters are going to work.

WRITER’s NOTE:

I might do a part two to this if anyone seems interested. Mainly because I have seen a lot of different writers and this feels like exorcising their ghosts from my system. But idk, this was kind of a last minute decision as I have been swamped with work recently.

Procrastination

Waiting for inspiration,

Is like waiting for a bus,

In the middle of the Arctic.

You wait for the right equipment,

The perfect pen, the glow in the dark keyboard,

And for the fear of failure to disappear.

Self help books are like drugs to you,

You sniff around for little kernels of truth,

And how to smack yourself into working,

As the deadline approaches,

You kick yourself into high gear,

And actually kick yourself,

For being an idiot.

You could promise yourself you’ll never do this again,

But it would be a lie,

And self help books always say tell the truth.

WRITER’s NOTE:

Yeah this totally isn’t based on real life events….

One easy trick for wasting your life!

The most trite piece of advice given out on the internet is “living every day like it’s your last.” It’s supposed to be a call to action, a way to make sure you’re living your fullest life. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the idea, I think sometimes it can be misleading. For some reason, this idea of a full life means doing all the things that terrify you the most, like jumping off of a cliff or swimming with sharks, because if you’re scared of it, that means it’s worth doing. For those of us, with tamer inclinations, this advice just seems like a way to torture yourself. Yes, I am terrified of a lot of things, and that doesn’t mean that I should do them. I’m scared of a plane crash and that doesn’t mean I should get into one, just for the sake of a life well lived. I’ve never been on a roller coaster but I don’t want to go on one and I don’t feel like going on one is going to improve the quality of my life.

On top of this, a lot of those bucket list ideas need money. And if you don’t have money, well, that’s it, you don’t get to have a life well lived, according to travel bloggers and YOLO enthusiasts.

I do think it is important though to acknowledge that your life is finite. There will come a day when it ends, and you don’t want to have spent the majority of it in this blind haze that most of us do. How much of our life becomes routine? How much of our life is spent trying to mitigate the bad instead of embracing the good?

I am a worrier. I admit that I am that person who can come up with the worst scenario in almost every situation. But even I could never have predicted a pandemic locking up the entire world. It just goes to show, worrying and stressing is almost never productive. Which is why, whenever I start spiraling down the situations of what ifs, I say to myself, so what? Okay, maybe a zombie apocalypse is going to happen. But guess what, you stressing about it isn’t going to make it more or less likely to happen. And if it does happen, you might be surprised at how resiliant you are.

One of my favorite news stories is the Miracle on the Hudson. If you’re not familiar with it, basically, a plane lost both its engines and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing on the river. Every single passenger survived. But what always struck me about it was the fact that the Captain didn’t panic. He just focused on what he had to do next. And because of that, her prevented a disaster. And I think that’s how we should all live our lives. Instead of trying to worry and plan for the future, just take it one step at a time. What do you have to do next? And are you fully embracing that step, whether it’s good or bad. In modern life, we don’t like ot acknowledge our crappy emotions, trying instead to suppress them. Instead, we should say, yes I’m feeling like shit, yes I don’t enjoy working this 9-5 job, but guess what? I’m here. This is my reality and no amount of daydreaming is going to change it. What I can do is take it step by step and learn to enjoy the process.

So, how do you live every day like it’s your last? The answer isn’t preparing for it to be your last, the answer is just living it. Actually living it. take in account all those small moment, all the bad and all the good and stop thinking about the past and the future. Next time you bang your head on a cupboard door, don’t let that ruin the rest of your day. Acknowledge it happened, and move on to the next thing.

WRITER’S NOTE:

So yeah, this was a little different from my normal stuff but I always wanted this space just to blurt out all the random thoughts that spin around my brain. If you found this interesting, leave a comment or something.

Ten Top Tips to Finally Finishing the First Draft.

First drafts are simultaneously the most difficult and the most freeing part of writing a novel. It’s also where a majority of people give up. It’s where you’re faced with the most blank pages and where you’ll have to summon that motivation within you to keep writing . As a lazy person myself, here are some of my top tips for powering through and completing that first draft.

  1. Write something every day. There’s a reason this is in most tips about writing because it’s the truest thing you can do. If the writing block is hitting you really hard, try taking a break from your book, and write something else related to it. Try writing character profiles, or even a later scene in the book. Just write everyday.
  2. Set aside an allocated time to write and switch off all distractions. Make it a habit instead of something reliant on motivation. Apps like Forrest which plants a tree while you’re off your phone and kills it if you switch it back on, and app blocker will help you to write consistently. Again, don’t start with trying to write for an hour every day. begn with fifteen minutes.
  3. If you’re still stuck, try switching off your computer and writing by hand. Sometimes this can really help you see where your writing is going clunky.
  4. If when writing, you find yourself giving up halfway, try using the most dangerous writing app. This website basically forces you to write without any breaks as if you stop, all your work is deleted. Normally, I use this at the start of a writing session to motivate me into getting all that creative gunk out of my brain.
  5. Try using music to get you in the mood. Personally, I create a playlist with music that reminds me of my book and listen to it before I begin writing.
  6. Don’t feel pressured to write chronologically. For some people, it’s easier writing certain scenes then filling in the blanks.
  7. If you’re still stuck, try leaving your writing space and sit outside. And…don’t write. Don’t do anything. It’s not quite meditation but instead letting yourself become extremely bored. As everyone knows, some of your best ideas come when you’re not doing anything.
  8. If you’re struggling with dialogue, try acting it out. Pick somewhere where you won’t be interrupted by someone bursting in on you (it can be mildly embarrassing) and get your acting Shakespearean thespian self on.
  9. For first drafts, quantity over quality can be a great way to make sure it gets done. A lot of writers get paralyzed by the idea that their first draft has to be perfect and never end up finishing it. Instead, just write. Just WRITE! Chances are your final draft will end up looking very different from your first draft so don’t stress too much about whether it’s the next Charles Dickens.
  10. Lastly, have fun with it. I know this is such cliche advice but it’s true. If you don’t have fun writing, then why are you doing it? Play around with your characters and just enjoy the process.

WRITER’S NOTE:

Look, I managed to post two weeks in a row! I’ll give myself a pat on the back later.

CONVERSATION WITH A CRITIC( EVERYONE’S A HATER)

AUTHOR: So what’d you think?

MY MUM/DAD/FRIEND/WHOEVER: It was good.

AUTHOR: Really?

THEM: Yeah. Really good.

AUTHOR: What bits did you like?

THEM: Oh, you know, just the general atmosphere. it was good.

AUTHOR: Any constructive feedback?

THEM: You missed a full stop here.

AUTHOR: Oh. I’ll fix that. But what I mean is like big things–

THEM: And there’s a spelling mistake on page 100.

AUTHOR: Well, obviously, I’ll fix that before I send it.

THEM: Just thought I should point it out.

AUTHOR: Is there something to do with the actual writing and not typos.

THEM: So why doesn’t the main character call the police?

AUTHOR: I thought I explained that in the book. They don’t want to get arrested.

THEM: Oh yeah, sorry–

AUTHOR: Should I make it more clear?

THEM: No, no, no.

PAUSE.

AUTHOR: Anything else?

THEM: Why do they have magic powers?

AUTHOR: Because…it’s a fantasy novel.

THEM: Oh, yeah. It just seems unrealistic.

AUTHOR: You’re supposed to suspend your disbelief.

THEM: Oh, well, it seems like you don’t need my help.

AUTHOR: No, no I want your help. Just tell me about my writing style. Like do I have too many adjectives or—

THEM: there’s a lot of words.

AUTHOR: What?

THEM: There’s a lot of words. It gets boring abound the 10, 00 mark. Use less words.

AUTHOR: But that’s how long a normal book is.

THEM: Maybe you should practice using twitter. Use less characters.

AUTHOR: I’m not changing the lenth of the book

THEM: Sorry. It was just some advice.

AUTHOR:No, no I want your advice. What about the overall book? Did you find it interesting? Would you buy it?

THEM: (Shrugs) I don’t really read.

AUTHOR: What? Like ever?

THEM: It’s not my thing.

AUTHOR: Okay, okay, but you did think it was good.

THEM: Look at the time, I have to go–

AUTHOR: Is it not good?

THEM: So sorry, talk later.

AUTHOR turns back towards the screen.

AUTHOR: It really is crap.

 

WRITER’s NOTE:

ME to myself: Hell yeah, I’ll update on here every week.

Three weeks later…

Me: Shit. I’ve forgotten about this. And I have nothing to write.

Which led to the inception of this, loosely inspired by every time I try to get feedback on any piece of writing.

I think I’m gonna set a proper schedule for myself so that I actually put something on here at least once a week.

Little dreams (when I grow up)

When I was four,

I wanted to be glow in the dark green,

The colour of stick on stars,

I wanted to be seen,

in the dark, with no light,

My parents tried to explain,

That you can’t be a colour,

No amount of paint,

Will make you green forever,

I didn’t understand.

 

When I was ten

I wanted to be funny,

To make people laugh,

But I also wanted money,

So I decided to be an,

Accountant by day,

And a clown at night.

Buying tearaway clothing,

And big red noses,

Everyone laughed.

I didn’t get the joke.

 

When I was fourteen,

I thought about acting,

Standing on stage,

Baring souls, and distracting,

People from that sadness,

But my teacher said,

I’d end up poor and living,

In a cardboard box,

So I did Maths instead.

 

I was eighteen when I realised,

That all those dreams could have been true,

If only I had leapt into the abyss,

Without a single clue,

If I would land with all my limbs attached,

Or be broken into pieces,

But I’ve never been much good at risk,

And they tell you to reach for the stars,

But don’t tell you how far they are,

Because what if my rocket ship isn’t big enough,

And I crash and I burn on re-entry,

And if i do reach it, what if that’s not what I want.

And I drown myself in booze and drugs,

Sometimes I wish I could have lived a million lives,

To try everything, be all those little dreams,

Paint myself green, and be ridiculous in all its glory.

But even though, I let all those little dreams go,

I’m still happy with who I grew up to be.

 

WRITER’S NOTE:

This was inspired by a conversation with my parents where I remembered that I had actually wanted to be a clown and an accountant at the same time. Looking back, I have no idea how I thought that was a feasible career option. Anyways, this was a silly little poem that I had fun writing.  I think next week I might try writing something other than poetry.

Did you know I’m a writer?

 

Sipping on champagne,
The sound of jazz music playing,
In the background,
My new acquaintance, a man of repute,
Leans in,
to be heard above the din,
Of the crowded room.
What is it that you do?
I laugh and toss my hair back,
Like a 1920's girl in a boozy,
Bar,
And say,
Well, I'm writing a book,
He gives me a look,
Filled with interest,
and asks,
What's it about,
Sweat beads on my brow,
Well, uh, this thing happens,
And then that,
I trail off,
The admiration in his eyes,
Has faded into disappointed surprise,
I see,
He says,
And leaves,
I reach out grasping for that feeling,
For a moment, I believed,
Myself,

My next conversation,
Partner, a girl with large,
Spectacles framing her face,
mentions she loves literature,
Like a moth drawn to flame,
The words whisper,
and seduce me into saying,
"I'm a writer."
She smiles at me,
Any books that I would know,
No, I don't think so.
Well, tell me the same,
She presses,
And to my shame,
I blank out,
And stutter as I try to explain,
Her smile fades,
And without a second look,
She walks away,

Perhaps I imagine,
the way eyes slide past me,
While the party,
is in full swing,
I hover,
Will no one listen to
How I am a writer,
Or perhaps,
Looking at my previous interactions,
The man mingling in the crowd,
The girl talking by the carnations,
They have spread my foul misdeeds,
I leap onto a table and speak,
I lied, I lied, I'm a fraud,
I only managed ten pages before I got bored,
But I have a fascination,
With speaking my inclination,
to the art of writing,
It's fascinating the way people look at me,
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm too lazy to write,
But please still admire me,
Someone taps on my leg 
Excuse me,
You're blocking the roasted potatoes,
I bend down and say,
I'm a writer, you know.


Writer's note
I've got such bad writer's block at the moment I thought I'd write this silly
little poem to talk about the absurdity of some writers(AKA ME). Like I'm
barely a writer but ask anyone and I'll tell them I am. Anyway, this was 
written in a stream of consciousness at three am, so don't judge too harshly.
I'll probably be back here next week at the same time as I procrastinate 
doing any real work.

 

Doppelganger

Joe Brown did not believe in the supernatural. He believed that things “unseen” were unseen for the simple reason that they did not exist. While others may have sprinted up the stairs after switching off the lights for fear of monsters, Joe sauntered. When something went “bump” in the middle of the night, Joe merely rolled back onto his pillow. In Joe’s mind, there was nothing fantastical about the world, no mysterious powers that could not be explained. His own mundane day to day view had wiped any sense of wonder from him.

However, this evening, Joe was beginning to reconsider that firmly held position.

For you see, sitting in the backseat of Joe’s taxi, was a man with the exact same face as Joe. The slightly crooked nose, the hooded eye shape and most telling, the mole on the bottom of the chin. It was exactly alike.

For a moment, Joe wondered if he was being pranked. By a very expensive TV show that had bothered to get a plastic surgeon to mold someone’s face into his. He quickly dismissed that as silly.

The doppelganger hadn’t seemed to notice. Scrolling on his phone, he hadn’t looked up as he clambered into the backseat.

“Could you take me to Willow Street?” asked the doppelganger, still engrossed in his phone.

Joe wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do in this situation. Should he scream or perhaps throttle the doppelganger and demand answers?

But Joe was, if anything, a practical man and not one given to outbursts of violence. Still slightly dumbstruck, he switched on the engine of the taxi. While he drove,  he checked sporadically to see if his passenger’s face had morphed back into nondescript obscurity. Perhaps the lateness of the evening had gotten to him and there was a perfectly normal man sitting in his taxi. Unfortunately for Joe, the face remained the same mirror image of his own.

Eventually, Joe was forced to face the fact that there seemed to be a clone of himself lounging across the leather seat behind him. He needed a game plan, a reasonable way to-

“Are you my evil twin or something?” Joe said, his words coming out in a breathless rush. He winced. That was not what he meant to say.

For the first time since getting in the taxi, the doppelganger looked up from his phone. “Twin?” The doppelganger frowned. Did Joe really have that many wrinkles when he frowned. “Ah I see. I suppose we look a little similar. The jawline, or something.”

As he braked for the red light, the tires screeching, Joe turned to face his doppelganger. “Jaw- what- we look exactly the same!”

The doppelganger flickered his eyes over Joe’s face. “Hm.”

Maybe Joe was having a mental breakdown. Maybe there really wasn’t a clone of himself in his car. And this poor man was-

“Hey, is that a photo of me?” The doppelganger pointed at the Joe’s license photo that was dangling from the roof of his car.

Joe twitched. So he wasn’t having a breakdown. His doppelganger was just an idiot. “That’s a photo of me.”

The doppelganger laughed. “I think I can recognise my own face.”

The red light turned green and Joe slammed his foot down on the accelerator. “Clearly, you can’t.”

“Are you this rude to all your passengers?” the doppelganger said peevishly. Before Joe could reach around and strangle this infuriating clone, a ringtone pierced air in the taxi. It was the same one Joe had but there was no vibrations from his phone.

“Hello?” the doppelganger picked up the phone. “It’s Joe.”

Even the name was the same? Well, he supposed that discounted the possibility of it being a secret twin.

“No, no, I’m free to talk,” the doppelganger continued. “You said you’d have the book ready by Monday. If it’s not ready by Monday, I’m not sure what we can do. I don’t care if your dog is sick. Get that book ready. Okay. Okay. Bye bye.”

Joe 2 hung up the phone.  “Sorry about that. What were we talking about?”

“What’s your job?” Joe asked. He had already half worked it out.

“Oh, I’m a publisher.,” the doppelganger said nonchalantly.

It sent this small lance of pain through Joe’s heart.  When he had been younger, he always wanted to be a publisher. Dream job. He didn’t have the imagination to be a creative writer but he wanted to be involved in the process of creating books. Of bringing art into the world. Also, he liked reading.

“Oh,” Joe said.

Perhaps this wasn’t a mental breakdown. Perhaps this was a punishment sent by God. Saying, look this is what you could have achieved. Because he never managed to. Life stomped all over his carefully laid plans. When Magda got pregnant, he had needed a job. And fast. And it had tripped and fell into being a taxi driver for ten years.

“Is your wife happy?”

The doppelganger’s eyes grew sad. It was odd, seeing his own eyes tilted downwards. “I don’t have a wife. Haven’t had the chance to start my own family. Too busy building a career.”

Joe couldn’t imagine his life without Magda. And his beautiful children.  They were all that kept him going when the days got long and his fingers went cold in his threadbare gloves and he had another drunk passenger yelling obscenities and puking in his taxi.

“Are you happy?” asked Joe.

The doppelganger looked pensive. “I suppose.  It was always my dream.”

Joe continued driving in silence, his mind churning.

What if it had been worth it?

“This is my stop,” the doppelganger said.  Wordlessly, Joe killed the engine.

The doppelganger reached for his wallet. “How much do I owe you?”

Joe glanced up at the taxi meter, the number 30 flashing on a screen. “Don’t worry about it.”

The door didn’t open. There was no sound of unclicking or slamming.

But when Joe looked back, the doppelganger had disappeared.

That night, Joe kissed Magda a little longer. He hugged his children a little tighter.

And he tried not to resent them a little more.