Transform Your Heroes for a Stronger Plot

Our heroes are the lifeblood of our stories. They are the engine that makes our plots run. We all rely on dependable transportation. And for that reason, most of us take care to make sure our cars and their engines are diligently cared for and free from flaws.

But unlike the power plants of our cars, a good protagonist should be flawed. Characters, like real humans, should be complicated and fallible. Their weaknesses should drive them straight into trouble. Our readers want to understand what makes our protagonist tick. And when they have shortcomings, readers are curious. Sprinkle the details and actions pointing to your hero’s flaws into your story so the reader can see the inner workings of your character’s imperfect engine. Then as the plot unfolds, your hero must grow and transform throughout. Allow your reader to experience how your character is changing.

But, the foibles you instill in them should be ones that resonate with our readers; that make our protagonists feel like they are real. The defects should be flaws with which our readers can empathize. The teenager who will do anything to be accepted; the agonizingly straight-laced corporate executive who is asked to cheat in order to get that promotion or the dedicated, lonely, love-starved wife who, by chance, meets an attentive suitor.

These flaw-driven conflicts will create the dramatic tension on which your plots will thrive. However, your hero’s faults should NOT turn off your audience. Relegate those to your antagonists.

The character blemishes should drive your hero or heroine forward in your plot. Along with their core values, they are the motivation that makes them act the way do. In my novel, The Cyclops Conspiracy, Jason Rodgers has a dark, deadly secret which nearly ruined his career as a pharmacist before it really started. Along with his strong sense of justice and fair play, the pain of living with this secret causes him to pursue his long lost love, Christine Pettigrew and delve into the death of his mentor, Christine’s father, Thomas. This yearning lands him in a torrent of trouble. Along the way, Jason learns a lot about his past and the present.

By letting your reader understand and view some of your protagonist’s failings, and how it shaped them, you draw them into your plot. They are more invested because they understand and feel for your hero. Along with properly constructed scenes and chapters, it will keep your audience turning the pages.

E-mail me if you would like assistance with developing your characters.

©Copyright David Perry 2015

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