Rounding out my main characters

by Bryan

Question: I have been having issues with some people feeling that my main characters are flat. What I wonder is if I'm just not getting the info out correctly or if I am missing something.

Here is what I have done with my main character.

Chapter one introduces her. Through a small bit of dialog after some action she hints at her motivations. (Revenge.) In this chapter she also saves my second main character and uses his sense of honor to get him to do what she wants.

Chapter two and three reveals a bit more of her personality through dialog and hints at the over all plot. Shows the read some of what she is capable of combat wise. And that she is pretty rash and inpatient.

Chapter four starts to reveal her childhood (its important to the story) and more hinting at the over all plot.

No one has read beyond that point. I am just not sure if I missed something or maybe just didn't describe or show clearly enough.

They don't have to have a perfect sense of who the characters are by the first chapter do they? I always assumed it was better to reveal slowly and the reader would get to know them through their dialog and actions as the story goes on. Maybe by chapter ten they would have a good idea. Are my critiques just not patient enough or am I actually doing this in the wrong way?

Answer: A good main character will have a fundamental problem, a unique ability, and a critical flaw.

It is rather important that the first time the reader meets this character that these are revealed in a colourful way. Some people make up their minds whether to continue reading by the end of the first chapter. Editors and agents often decide on the first page.

You want to give them enough of what makes your character appealing right away, so they will decide to invest in reading the rest of the book.

You don't have to reveal everything about the character at once. Background, the reasons why they are the way they are, can wait until later. But personality, voice, the traits that make her interesting and charming, these should be introduced the first time she appears.

With a main character, it's also important to introduce the beginning of her inner conflict in those early pages. When she encounters the impact character in act one, she will start to doubt herself, and that will also get the reader interested in seeing what happens as the story progresses.

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Mar 15, 2013
Thanks for answering
by: Bryan

I will have to think about how i can get that internal conflict out in the open sooner. Right now its more or less at the start of chapter three (most of my chapters are between 2 and 3 thousand words) My theme mostly revolves around betrayal - Her mentor tried to kill her and her internal conflict is that she wants revenge but at the same time she wants things to go back to the way they were.

I think i could make it work with what i have planned for my chapter one rewrite. I am also torn between using a prelude to get that info out or not. Do people like preludes these days? I have heard that some people opt for a quote or something rather then a prelude.

Thanks for the help:)

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