Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What Makes You Like a Protagonist?

I got this idea from The Roundtable Podcast’s Worldcon episode, where they interviewed various authors for their ideal protagonists. Any canny person recognizes that your ideal protagonist changes from time to time. Who you desperately wanted to write or read about ten years ago is almost certainly different from the one you craved last night. If you’re like me, it even changed a few times over the course of this morning.

So, fellow readers and writers, I have a question: what protagonist would you most like to read about right now?

If you’re lucky, somebody else might turn it into a #fridayflash or short story. If you’re brilliant, you might find yourself a new hero for your next WIP. But at worst, I’m willing to bet we’ll get an interesting spread of what people crave from fiction.

You can base it on any characteristics and ideology, any kind of story. Are they unusually analytical? Insane in a world that's too sane? Is it just about how often they get laid? Whatever it is, just tell us what in the comments. This is another experiment in how different people can be, not about superiority, but about individuality. Still unsure of how to put it? Here’s a possible answer:
Holier-than-thou type, but very approachable. Healer. Loves the poor even though his followers want to make him rich. Might not be wild about what Christmas becomes.

I guarantee you that is somebody’s ideal protagonist. What’s yours?


  1. I dunno. That's a bit like being asked your favourite ice cream when there are so many great flavours! Depends on my mood. Here are two examples (guaranteed valid for next ten minutes):

    Stoic. Struggles against overwhelming odds, sacrificing what little they have to help those weaker than themselves. Apart from when cookies are involved. A ray of decency in a terrible world.

    Black hearted lover of human flesh and dirty jokes, stapled to do-gooder and forced to help them, though not quietly. Does a great line in minor curses. Weakness for cats.

  2. I insist on something incredibly awesome. No, I won't give you any guidelines - I'll know it when I see it.

    (Don't mind me... I'm training to be an agent.)

  3. Introspective, self-critical and self-questioning in the extreme; constantly questioning their motives, actions and words stopping just short of annoying the living fuck out of the reader. Penchant for inadvertently making really profound comments that shut up all listeners- a quality that leaves them constantly questioning why the conversation stopped all of a sudden. Mortal weakness for cheese nips, Mr. Rogers-esque cardigan sweaters and awkward jokes that no one else laughs at. Perpetually clammy palms.

  4. I pass. It changes with the wind. Intelligence is a given. Preferably with a sense of the ridiculous. And no 'holier than thou' types need apply. Virtue not essential. Ethics are. Except when they aren't.

  5. A Jack Reacher type (author Lee Child) -- easy on the eyes, traverses the U.S. on foot or hitchhikes or takes a bus, no luggage or possessions except for a fold-up toothbrush, wears clothes for just a few days and buys new ones at a cheap outlet store, psychs out his opponents as he rights wrongs and solves mysteries, special skill is head-butting, calls upon old Army connections as needed, beds one fair damsel in each book, is usually known only by his last name.

  6. Interesting question. But I have no idea. I don't even know if I have an ideal protagonist. Wait, wait, yes I do. My ideal protagonist is someone interesting and who doesn't argue with me. I would like an interesting, but non-willful protagonist.


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