Saturday, October 22, 2005

My Favorite Protag

Sometimes I get a brilliant thought. Then my crit group points out that it's not all that brilliant and I start over again. This time, though, I think I'm on to something. Okay, it wasn't really my thought, it's been written about time and time again, but at least I'm starting to get it.

My favorite protag is me. Everything I've written has a protag who leads a dull life as an engineer and suddenly finds himself in unusual circumstances. Problem is, he's still a boring engineer. I told Dineen this, that we have a tendancy to write auto-bios into our fiction. Lets face it, writers in general aren't terribly exciting people. We just have overactive imaginations. Other than that, we spend countless hours sitting in front of computers, drinkning too much coffee, and complaining about the weather. If you have an engineer/writer...well, I think we all understand why there are no TV series with engineers as the main characters. Drool city.

So I think I've made a major discovery about my writing. Normally, my secondary characters are the ones that spring to life. That's because they're nothing like me. I won't ditch my protag for Soul Searcher, though he's an engineer. I've added some characteristics that help him out. But I know I'll only get away with that once. No reader will ever believe there are two interesting engineers in the same universe.

I have been tossing around the idea of changing protags in Soul Searcher from Kevin James (the engineer) to his aunt, Jean Fitzgerald, retired country-wester superstar and night club owner (and a total babe, of course). She's got attitude. Unfortunately, I need her where she's at, major secondary character. She'll get promoted in future best-sellers.

So the moral of the blog is: if your protag is a lot like you, get over yourself and find someone with a life!


Gina Holmes said...

Ron, this is so true. I'm a little dense, all right more than a little, but didn't realize how much like my protaganists I truly am until about half way through my current novel. Young, smart-alecs who are still searching for their place in the world. Hmmm. But, you're right about the secondary characters-they're the fun ones. But in our defense, those quirky side-kicks might be just a tad too much to be in the main spot. Certain quirks are cute or funny in moderation. I'm not sure I can write a main character that is nothing like me. I noticed in Stephen King's novels his characters tend to be similar, smart alec tough guys who ain't the most refined. I'll have to brood on this.

Robin Cynclair said...

Okay, so my protags, overall, aren't like me. They have exciting lives, which I don't. However, I have noticed that my characters DO have some of my tendencies....the sarcasm and smart-alec remarks. Hmmm.....

Dineen A. Miller said...

Great blog, dude! And so cool to be part of that realization. Now I'm looking for way to make my protags stand out. Thanks for the brain food.