This year's posts will deal with "lists" (also known as Cheat Sheets) that help a writer recall necessary elements before writing (or after) that make for a marketable story, a story worth telling and selling. Such Cheat Sheets are the backbone of a producing writer's Project Bible.
So, now let's start this new year off with—
THE QUALITIES OF
(HERO OR HEROINE)
Most romance and fiction heroes (those alpha and beta men) of legendary stories come across as superior to real men in many ways. The same is said for heroines versus real women.
Now, go get a pen and a sheet of paper and recall a book you really enjoyed reading that had memorable characters. As quickly as you can, write down three POSITIVE qualities of the most memorable MALE character in that story. Once done, compare your three to this list of hero-protagonist qualities:
● HAS A WOUNDED SPIRIT
● HAS A CAUSE /JOB (OR IS BUMMED OUT BY HIS JOB AND NEEDS REJUVENATION)
● PEOPLE ARE LOYAL TO HIM
● HE IS LOYAL TO HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS
● HE IS RESPECTED AND FEARED
● HE IS SMART / INTELLIGENT
● HE UNDERMINES THE ROMANTIC LEAD's OR HEROINE'S DEFENSES
● HE CARES FOR HIS PEOPLE'S PLIGHT (FAMILY, FRIENDS, COWORKERS)
● HE IS TRUSTED AND TRUSTWORTHY
● HE IS REALISTIC
● HE HAS INNER HONOR, A CODE OF HONOR
● HE IS DETERMINED, DECISIVE
● HE MAY BE A LONER
Now, list as quickly as you can, three POSITIVE qualities of the most memorable FEMALE character in a favorite story. Once done, compare your three to this list of heroine-protagonist / romantic-lead qualities:
● HER INTELLIGENCE MATCHES THE HERO'S
● SHE IS SMART / INTELLIGENT
● SHE IS CONFIDENT MOST OF THE TIME
● SHE IS BOLD, DECISIVE, OFTEN A LEADER-BOSS
● SHE IS MADDENING IN SOME WAY
● SHE IS DETERMINED
● SHE MAY BE STUBBORN
● SHE IS INDEPENDENT OR INDEPENDENTLY MINDED (SHE THINKS SHE CAN DO IT HERSELF)
● SHE IS NOT OUTWARDLY OR OVERLY EMOTIONAL (MOST OF THE TIME)
● SHE IS SENSUAL (NOT NECESSARILY SEXY)
● SHE STRIVES TO BE FREE, TO BREAK THE CHAINS THAT BIND HER
● SHE HAS A NEED TO FEEL AND BE SOMEBODY SPECIAL
● SHE DOES NOT EASILY TRUST
Did you notice as you went through all the lists, that these are admirable traits? Well, a Protagonist, be they male or female, must be highly admirable.
Here's the secret, show the reader their MOST ADMIRABLE TRAIT when they come on stage by announcing to the reader their name (the name they will be known as throughout the story, not necessarily their full name). After all, a story is about SOMEONE, a person, so begin with that very special person on the first line of the first page, or within the first sentence or paragraph or within 500 words of the opening of the story.
Doing so telegraphs to the reader the story is about "someone special" who is a person worthy of a reader's investment in reading the story.
So, how does your protagonist measure up as "hero or heroine" worthy?