The Chosen One

No, I’m not talking about the trope (though I could! I love it!) No, what I want to talk about it is: why are your main characters, your main characters? Why them?

One of my least favorite kind of character is the one who doesn’t do anything. You know what I’m talking about. Life happens to them and other characters have to save them because they are incapable of doing more than screaming for help. And sometimes running into that cave that just so happens to be standing conveniently by, free of bears.

That said, I believe everything can work in the right setting. Did anyone see that Will Ferrell movie? Stranger Than Fiction? He doesn’t really do much of anything except shout at the air, but I still found the movie entertaining enough to sit through. Probably because I’m a writer, but maybe also because it was interesting. I mean, they start off saying that Harold Crick is going to die! HOW is he going to die?!

Anyway, I can’t have a do nothing kind of character. That would drive me crazy.

Speaking of The Chosen One! Chains of Destiny had a chosen one, kind of. There were only two people who could do the job and the other person wouldn’t do it, so…kind of! She (Reagan) is one of the worst MCs I’ve ever had. Not because she sucks that bad, because she didn’t. She’s one of the worst because she couldn’t carry the story on her own. Luckily, she didn’t have to. But even when I have two MCs, I want at least the hero to be strong enough to carry the story by herself if she has to.

THAT is the kind of character I like.

And I’m not talking physical strength either, though that is cool. I mean the person is interesting and active enough on their own that I can go the entire story with just them without ruining the story.

In my last vampire story (2 years ago now! Look at me!), I had 2 point of views, but my girl Caroline could have carried that entire story if she had to. I only had a secondary POV because that’s what I was used to doing, what I was good at, and I was afraid to stop. Lol! Really though, she rocked. She wasn’t especially strong or gifted. But when I needed her to throw down and fight for her life, she did it on her own. Unlike Reagan, who I had to drag kicking and screaming throughout the ENTIRE story. Now, to her credit, she fought when I told her to…I just shouldn’t of had to tell her. It was HER story for crying out loud! Step up to the plate!

calms self She is the reason I set up new rules regarding MCs. I still love her, but it was just too exhausting. If I’m stuck, I need a character that wants their story told so bad, they’ll fix the problem for me. They’ll tell me what to do! They’re my little buddies, and I need them as much as they need me, perhaps more.

So, I don’t have a particular trait that I look for. They don’t have to be a fighter or a brainiac or magical or the chosen one. I’m looking for main characters who take charge of their own stories. Who fight when they need to. Hide when they need to. And cry when they need to. If that makes any sense. And not just the main characters. I want everyone in the story to be like that. The side characters, the love interests, the villains, the henchmen, the mailman.

I want characters like Caroline and Korie, who work hard and are inquisitive and resourceful and don’t give up without a fight.

I want characters like Adria and Ares, who are so freaking evil, psychotic, and amazing that I will scoop them from a shelved story and keep looking until the right story comes for them.

I want characters like Riley and Harley, who use their brains and make normal INTERESTING, people who can hold my interest despite not having any kind of supernatural abilities whatsoever.

I want characters like Jillian and Rosemarie, who pop and sparkle and stand out from the sidelines without begging for my attention or being obnoxious because they know they are awesome enough to get my attention without having to do anything at all.

I want characters like Kyle and Brookes, who are genuinely sweet and kind and helpful and loyal, strong arms for my main characters to cry on when their worlds are falling apart.

I want characters like Taryn and Jade, who are protective and fragile and not afraid to feel fear and pain and longing.

I want characters like Safara and Eve, who are emotional and dangerous and powerful and exciting.

That’s who I like to work with (and read about for that matter). Not characters who complain and whine and have to be dragged everywhere. Not characters that are snarky for no reason. Not characters who are weird for no reason. Not characters who are reckless for no reason.

Who do you like (or don’t like) to work with? ^_^

22 Responses to The Chosen One

  1. I don’t know if I’m setting up new criteria for my lead characters, but I want more characters like Pearl–characters who come in with a storyline, plot, or really strong motivation of her own. I don’t want to have to keep spinning out more story for characters like Miles, who was really hard to write for after the first draft. He wasn’t the type to want to do what I wanted.

    • Yes, like Pearl, exactly! 🙂 I much prefer the stories to come with them. I think I discover so much more about them and the story that way, and characters like that really stand out from the crowd.

    • I love characters like that, too! I don’t care if it takes the entire book, I want to see them standing at the end. I want to see a survivor. It’s kind of awesome how we like what we like. Sometimes we can’t quite put our finger on it, but we know what we’re drawn to. 🙂

  2. TOTALLY. If a character doesn’t take charge (eventually), they have no right being the center of a story. And really, the ones that have unique backgrounds that make them what they are, I adore those people. Who doesn’t like a character who thrives in the storm?

    • So much truth! I love a character who has been through some stuff. ^_^ Nowadays, they have to prove to me that they can pull their own weight. It’s kind of extremely awesome how many characters showed up for the challenge!

  3. I like characters in the same ways that I admire people- I don’t want people who play the victim, either. That being said, I have to defend Harold Crick because I also adore that movie. He actually does quite a lot- he teaches himself to play the guitar, just because he thinks he may die soon, he gets the girl by putting himself out there in a major way, he seeks an expert to help him figure out what the crazy voice in his head is going on about and in the end he decides to give his life so that the best story can have the best ending. He starts out passive, sure, but he ends up very active indeed. My kind-of character.

  4. What a great question! Why are your main characters your main characters? I guess the short answer is they are the ones who speak to me the loudest, the ones with the biggest journey to undertake. Saying that, though, my MC isn’t always my favourite amongst the ‘cast’. Sometimes you can have a bit more fun with the supporting characters.

    • I like that, the ones who speak the loudest. I do have one idea where I picked her because she was the quietest. I needed someone who could see everything AND tell the truth about it, so she’s perfect. ^_^ Quite often, my favorite character is the one the supporting cast though. Too often. Lol!

  5. A main character has to catapult the story along or there isn’t a point of having them there. It’s their story, and if they can’t deal with that, then they don’t belong there. Then it isn’t really their story.
    Somehow, I can’t see your characters not taking charge the whole way through ;=)

    • Yes, exactly! There is no point in writing about them if they have to be dragged. But yeah, they most definitely take charge now! Lol! If they don’t, I dump them, and they all know it. ^_^

  6. Who do I NOT like to work with? “Bella”-type characters who have the personality of wet blankets, yet somehow extraordinary things miraculously happen to them and hot guys fall at their feet. Yeah, really annoying. The characters I like to work with are the ones who are strong, lovable, and flawed. Like, seriously flawed (think Dr. House), where the reader almost feels guilty for loving them (hence my adoration for Grayden, my empathetic sadist).

    Great discussion! The items you pointed out that make for a GOOD MC are the things I’m going to be striving for in my future novels.

    • Wet blankets. Lol! It’s so unappealing in sooo many ways. Like really.

      I love flaws. I had this saying in high school: Flaws make people interesting. Flaws make people beautiful. Few people can relate to perfect people. Brokeness bonds people. So sayeth the wise man. ^_^

      Grayden is going to be amazing! He will wait for you. 🙂 I want characters who are interesting the moment I meet them, THAT is how awesome they are. It’s very exciting.

  7. You sound like just the person needed to put the “fear of God” into passive/lazy/not-taking-charge types of characters…torture them into doing what they know they should be doing!
    Ha! I’m sending my lot to you when they play up! LOL

Hi! ^_^