What makes you enjoy a Protagonist?

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Ornery Wyvern, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. Ornery Wyvern

    Ornery Wyvern 50% Certain

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    Personally liking a protagonist does not appear to be a necessary condition for enjoying the protagonist. So to be clear I am asking you to articulate why you have particularly enjoyed certain protagonists and why others have fallen flat, or failed to appeal.

    Some of my favorite protagonists are Tyrion and Jamie Lannister from ASoIaF, Rupert Avery from Feist's Serpent War, Matt Cauthron from TWOT, and - though it pains me to admit it - Richard from the first two SOT novels. I am sure this is not an exhaustive list and I'll kick myself for not recalling some later, but off the top of my head...

    Attempting to analyze why I enjoy these characters so much is difficult, but most of them appear to have an odd combination of self confidence and doubt and a dark sense of humor - with the exception of Richard.

    Since I am currently attempting to shape my own protagonist, and thus have been giving this some considerable thought, I would appreciate hearing your opinions. I am also very curious as to which protagonists people have most enjoyed.
     
  2. MuchAdoAboutSFF

    MuchAdoAboutSFF Alien In Disguise

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    Character traits that I have liked in protagonists:

    Clarity of thought, clear motivations.
    Original, uncommon way of thinking. (Different value system, perhaps?)
    Sharp dialogue. (Not necessarily just a protagonists feature...)
    Exceptional capability on some area, not all, but in some area.
    Sense of humor.
    Sense of style. (Not snobbish though, unless exquisitely shown...)
    Working set of (preferably good) manners.
    Exotic experience history.
     
  3. Jon Sprunk

    Jon Sprunk Book of the Black Earth

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    wow. couldn't have said it better myself. I approve this list.
     
  4. FuzzBunneh

    FuzzBunneh Registered User

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    Someone I'd probably enjoy as a friend.
     
  5. ShellyS

    ShellyS Chocoholic

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    Wow, this is hard. I like/enjoy a wide variety of protags. I like characters that are fully developed, the ones I can imagine actually living, even if aliens. That's more due to the writer's skill in writing them than the character traits.

    My favorite protags overcame a lot, but not just obstacles placed in front of them but the obstacles of their own lives, their upbringing. Probably one of my all-time favorites is Cat from Joan Vinge's Psion and Catspaw (I keep blanking on the third book's title).

    I like characters who start off dysfunctional and who then find themselves over the course of the story.

    I like protags that get under my skin, the ones who make me worry about them. If they're a bit sarcastic, that helps, because I'm sarcastic, too. ;)

    I tend to lean more toward a protag's inner life than outer life. The story's events should have emotional impact on the characters, perhaps at first for the bad, but then, ultimately, for the good.

    So, I don't have an actual list of what I look for. It's like meeting someone new in real life. I'll hit it off with some and not others who have similar traits/personality. It's about making an emotional connection.
     
  6. jordanlanni

    jordanlanni Registered User

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    Overall, complexity is the big winner for me. I enjoy protagonists who are intelligent, and have a sense of themselves and where they are in the world. Development is key and lends to the complexity.

    Also I think protagonists should definitely face inner struggles, that makes it a whole lot more interesting. Of course, those struggles should be legitimate in context of the story but it makes the character much more well-rounded. Like ShellyS, I want to see the inner life of of the protagonist.
     
  7. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    I think you mean main characters rather than protagonists. I don't like it when an author suddenly makes a main character dumber than they were previously, without explanation, so that it will work with plot events. That annoys me. Other than that, what I enjoy are the inner pov's of main characters, their voices, assuming they are made viewpoint characters, and through dialogue if they aren't. And the reasons I enjoy them aren't set but vary depending on the character and I don't think I can really tell you what they are as I don't always know. Some characters just appeal to me, even if I hate them.
     
  8. Sparrow

    Sparrow Banned

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    I like a protagonist that is flawed, as fragile in some aspects of their personality as they are strong in others. To hook me in they will need to lose far more often then they win... and have a self-deprecating sense of humor.