Vibrant Wave Publishing

Vibrant Wave Publishing


Story Characterization and Elements

Using Your Protagonist as Inspiration

Your protagonist is one of the most important characters not only because it is the reader's view into the world that you created but because they are the best representation of the theme and the writer's values. 

Because of this, one of the most important things that writer has to do is to make sure that their protagonist is someone that the reader can look up to.

This doesn't mean they should be perfect. Perfection in his pure form is a boring framework to give a character.

The protagonist needs one quality that will make anyone proud of them. It can be simple and doesn't have to be anything exceptional.

Whether it is kindness, they having the tendency to hug people they meet or they always look after the side-characters following them.

These simple actions can have profound effects on not only your readers but other characters in the story. 

The simple small things are what make your protagonist someone worth looking up to.

Archetype - Glass Cannon

Fantasy is a genre that thrives on archetypes, providing structure and organization. While constraints can foster creativity, it is important to avoid rigid categorization. 

One prevalent archetype in fantasy is the glass cannon, seen in both books and video games. These characters possess immense attack power but lack defense, making them vulnerable. Their strength often comes at the cost of fragility or susceptibility to illness.

The limits of the character's body become their obstacle, representing their physical weakness. This can be used as a challenge for them to overcome, either physically or mentally. If physical, they must train and become stronger. If mental, they need to let go of a mental weakness hindering their true potential. The personality of these characters can align with this archetype, providing a framework for their development. 

This is why similar character arcs and personalities emerge from these archetypes. As the writer, it is crucial to grasp how this archetype can enhance the story and create an intriguing character.

Frustrated Characters 

One of the many emotions that a character in your novel can have is frustration.

Frustration is a powerful emotion and it affects a lot of behaviors and actions that the character might take.

For example, frustrated characters can be emphasized with how they move. They tend to do a lot of passive-aggressive actions and put on a fake smile.

Their actions will also be mean-spirited. Frustrated characters will try to show their frustration through covert methods such as sarcasm. They want to express the emotion but are too scared to overtly. 

If you're doing internal dialogues, a great way to show it would be negative thoughts that are expressing what's going on wrong with their life and especially the world around them. They will even ask themselves in their mind why nobody is listening to their desires. This reflects their need to be heard.

When a person is frustrated, they want to express themselves but are struggling to do that, hence the passive aggressiveness.

This shows that the character is frustrated and wants their pain to be heard.

Angry Characters 

One of the many emotions that a character in your novel can have is anger.

Anger is a powerful emotion and it affects a lot of behaviors and actions that the character might take.

For example, angry characters can be emphasized by how they move. They tend to use a lot of exaggerated arm movements and will pace incessantly.

Their actions will also be confrontational. They will get within the comfort space of the person they're angry at, touch them without permission, or at least put their hands close to the face of the person they're angry at. 

If you're doing internal dialogues, a great way to show it would be fast-paced thoughts that are centered on that POV character. When a person is angry they're not thinking about other people they're thinking about themselves and how angry, betrayed, or disgusted they are.

This shows that the character is enraged and wants their Injustice to be heard.

Expletives in Stories 

Let's talk about characters using expletives in your story. The usage of expletives in a story is akin to the use of violence.

The question you have to ask yourself is would that character say that expletive or is it necessary?

The over-usage of expletives can be jarring to the reader if the tone or the situation does not warrant it. 

At that point, it is overcompensating for a lack of context set-up by the writer. 

So if you're going to use it, try it with a character whose personality matches that aesthetic or use it in a situation where someone is saying it in exceptional astonishment.

A Protagonist's Bad Beliefs

What a character believes is important because it can be used for two things, the theme of the story, or the character arc. 

So if your character has a bad or faulty belief system, it will affect how the story goes forward.

Because if your character belief system is intertwined with the theme of the story then that theme is going to put that belief to the test.

While if it is intertwined with the character development, then that belief system will go through changes in tandem with the character development. 

Nothing is wrong with a bad belief system as far as the story is concerned. But unlike bad traits which make a character human, bad belief systems are a promotion whether the character actively does it or not.

Happy Characters in Your Story 

One of the many emotions that a character in your novel can have is happiness.

Happiness is a powerful emotion and it affects a lot of behaviors and actions that the character might take.

For example, happy characters can be emphasized by how they act with the things they love. They'll be enthusiastic and energetic with what they're doing.

As far as internal dialogue, try to use words that are positive but also strong. Instead of writing, 'I like' you should write, 'I love'.

 A reader will be able to feel the energy coming off the page. 

Making A Character Real in Your Story or Novel

When creating characters, writers strive to make them stand out in their story. One effective method is through their actions. Rather than simply telling the reader that a character is mean, it is more impactful to show it through a scene. 

For instance, you could depict the character declining to help another character with their future rent payment. This way, the reader can directly witness the character's meanness and cruelty.

Imagine a scenario where a character, who was responsible for paying a friend's rent, fails to do so. As a result, that friend receives an eviction notice the very next day and ends up without a home. By showing this rather than explicitly stating it, the impact on the reader is much greater. 

Seeing the consequences of the character's actions invokes a deep emotional response, making it more memorable. This is a prime example of how actions can speak louder than words. While people may read about atrocities and quickly move on, witnessing them leaves an indelible mark.

Resolving Your Protagonist's Fault.

When crafting your protagonist, it is imperative to bestow upon them an arc that will facilitate their growth and transformation into a more refined character by the conclusion of the narrative.

To achieve this, it is essential to endow them with a flaw, be it physical or mental, that hinders their progress.

While this is a customary practice among writers, caution must be exercised when employing this technique for your protagonist.

The reason for this caution is rooted in the fact that the protagonist serves as the primary lens through which the story is perceived.

If the fault that your protagonist possesses is incredibly off-putting or unfavorable, it may prove challenging for the readers to fully engage with your protagonist throughout the story, especially if the development of that character is not up to par.

However, it is important to note that this does not necessarily mean that you must make the protagonist likable. Instead, as the writer, your focus should be on ensuring that the protagonist's fault is realistically connected to the journey you are crafting for that character.

This is where many writers tend to stumble. It is not so much that the fault itself is too severe, but rather that the development of the character's arc is not sufficiently robust.

The more severe the fault you bestow upon your protagonist, the greater the need for extensive development or a more pronounced arc.

As a writer, it is important to consider the length of the development cycle for your protagonist. If you choose to embark on a longer journey, spanning two or three books, you will have ample opportunity to witness the growth and transformation of your protagonist as they progress towards their ultimate destination. On the other hand, if time is of the essence and you opt for a single book, it becomes crucial to craft a development that is both powerful and significant, compelling the protagonist to undergo a profound change.

It is worth noting that a protagonist's development plays a pivotal role in endearing them to readers, as witnessing growth is a universal desire. Therefore, as the writer, your responsibility lies in skillfully sowing the seeds of change and nurturing them throughout the narrative.

Writing Interesting Monsters 

There is a saying that the worst monsters are the ones who look exactly like us. Most humans trust people they can relate to. This is why when those people they trust stab them in the back or break that halo image they have of them, it's a shock.

Those are the monsters that people remember the most. So in regards to the question, just make that monster, human. 

And please know when I mean make them human, I don't mean to make their race human or turn them into an actual human being. They can still be a fantasy monster with a snake tail, claws, and horns. It could look like a bird with two goat heads, but that is not the goal here.

What I mean by 'human' is their actions, for example, their habits behaviors, and motives.

These are the things that make your monsters, normal and in essence, human.

For example, let's say this dictator likes to grow a garden and tends to the garden every morning.

From just that small action we can determine that even though he slaughters and genocides people he's very tender to flowers, why is that? Your readers are going to want to figure that out.

Maybe it's because his mother always use to love gardening. Let's go further with that, how about this, let's say that mother was killed by the people he likes to slaughter and genocide.

There you go, interesting backstory. And when you play upon these simple habits or behaviors then you can craft their origin and make your evil character have a tragic backstory.

But that backstory has to lead to their evil in some conceivable, realistic way, so you have to connect the dots with their actions, both the monstrous ones and the human ones.

Making a Character Likeable in a Story

One of the things every writer grapples with is trying to make the character they have likable to the reader.

How do they make the character likable?

To be fair, this is not the question they should be asking themselves.

The real question that should be asked is does the character matter when it comes to the story that is being told.

A character only matters when readers want to understand that character. 

The readers have to relate to the character’s life experience for them to like the character, so you can do this by utilizing their personality, goals, or actions.


Personality traits that are similar to the reader are attractive. They make readers think the protagonist is just like them.


When a protagonist believes in something very strongly, readers will resonate with that and want to see the protagonist achieve that goal. This makes readers want to root for the protagonist.


The actions the protagonist takes, matter. It shows the reader who the protagonist is as a person. These are the things readers pick up on and weigh against the character. 


Making a character likable shouldn't be forced, but a reflection of what the reader wants to see within the character. Especially because there are the protagonist, which is the lead character in the story. They are the main character. Making sure you get their personality and goals right is important for the enjoyment of the story.

They want to see the protagonist be the hero, so make them that hero, that example they want to look up to.

Vibrant Wave Publishing
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