Writer's Discussion #1: Protagonists



Hello there, everyone and welcome to the first Writer’s Discussion on the Story Corner. As you can see from my name I’m Ben W, the host of this little library. Now I gonna level with you all and make this clear: I’m winging the shit out of this. Getting back to the matter at hand, you can see what the title of this is.


Protagonists. The hero. The knight in shining armor.


What makes them interesting or unique from story to story? By definition, aren’t all heroes of the story the exact same; being the savior? Perhaps. If, perhaps, we may look at a couple of examples?


First I’d like to bring up my own “hero:” Xian-Krie.



(I know I use that image of him a lot)


What makes this Argonian different from others from notable books like Harry Potter? Robin Hood? Off the top of my head these three gentlemen have one thing in common: they were thrust into the hero rule. Harry for being the Scarred One and surviving Voldemort’s Killing Curse. And Robin Hood took it upon himself to help out the poor people from a greedy king.

Xian was put in the hero role only due to his Dragonborn-ness.


That is where the similarities end and a laundry list of differences begin. Krie makes this clear: he isn’t a hero. He may be the main character of The Bounty Chronicles but he’s just an asshole. He tortures, maims, kills and more his targets. Brutally efficient. So what makes him the hero? In short: nothing.


He’s a mercenary, above everything else. Coin is his prize and he’ll take risks to get it.


Is it his attitude that draws readers such as yourselves to him? Or his indifference? Even I don’t know, if I may be honest. I just thought his concept was cool when I created him two years ago.


Another example would be from the long story: In Love and War.



(Let us pretend that is Penitus Oculatus armor)


In Love and War we follow an Imperial woman named Talia Maro in service to the Emperor via the organization sworn to protect him: The Penitus Oculatus. But back to the important question. What makes her interesting? What separates her from my bounty hunter? Is it the way she fights? Or is it what she fights for?


Talia fights for the oppressed but is now pitted against her beliefs that have driven her so far in her life. Is it her drive that brings readers back? That she’s only human who can only go so far and take so much?


What brings you readers back to the stories you enjoy? What makes protagonists interesting?


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  • I hoped to find answers here. But all I found is more questions.
    But my true reply here are four keywords:
    Pity, fear, katharsis, flaw.

    So, the first three come directly from classical Greek drama.
    Pity, means that the character should evoke pity. Most often because of difficult/tragic circumstances the hero has found themselves in.

    Fear, means that the reader should be worried about the hero.

    Katharsis means that the character is supposed to be (at least somewhat) relatable, and nudge the reader to reflect upon themselves.

    Flaw. This one ties into the previous point, which means that a crystalline pure and flawless hero is not easily relatable, because in real world nobody's perfect.

    Keep in mind that I know very little about writing, so there exists a probability of me being wrong here.
    Therefore, a handful of salt is recommended when you read this.
    • Hmm, maybe more questions is a good thing Cannon. It allows you to learn more than you originally thought. 

      And your answer: pity, fear, catharsis, and flaw. It's a damn good one, one that I fear I don't follow too well. 

      • Y'know, answers fought for through fire and war tend to be more memorable than those handed on a silver platter.

        I've had exams about Greek literature recently, so I remembered about pity, fear and catharsis.

        Flaw I've added in myself to emphasize on the 'relatable' point.

        Well, you've certainly delivered on flaw in chapter 15.
        • One quote will surmise everything in Chronicles: Appearances are always deceiving

  • I'm not much of a writer nor do I read books much, but when I do, what really makes the protagonist stick with me is how much I can relate to them. What Cannon mentioned is absolutely true, when all those things come together, I feel more attached to a character as if I really knew and cared for them. But in order for me to actually care for them, such as showing pity and fear for them, they would have to feel somewhat relatable first so I can understand the situation that they're in. I have yet to read your Bounty Chronicles and Kendrix's In Love and War, but I definitely plan to in the future. Since I have no idea whats going on in those stories, I will use a story I have actually read, The Jester by James Patterson.

    I won't spoil the story for anyone who wants to read it, but here's a quick synopsis I found, "Hugh De Luc returns from the Crusades to discover that his terrifying nightmare has just begun. Merciless killers have slain his young son, kidnapped his wife, Sophie, and destroyed his town in their search for a priceless relic from the Crucifixion. Hugh's quest to find Sophie is one of the most pulse-pounding adventures, mysteries, and unforgettable love stories in all of thriller fiction." As you can tell from the short synopsis, the story follows Hugh De Luc on his journey to find his son and wife who were kidnapped while he was gone. Right off the bat, though very generic, I can already relate to Hugh somewhat. We've all experienced the painful feeling of losing something, someone that is very close to us, and very early on in the story, James Patterson makes it clear that Hugh is devastated over the loss of his family. Throughout the story, Hugh experiences multiple life or death situations, fighting against corrupt officials and the wraths of nature, making it out by the skin of his teeth through wit alone as he has virtually no combat skills. He also does everything he can, risking his life to gain allies along the way, in addition, to getting close to his enemies. This makes him even more relatable as he is willing to do anything to see his family again. At this point, I also fear for whats to come considering he is so deep in enemy territory that one wrong move could land him on the chopping block, never to see his family again.

    I'm not sure if what I said was clear or answers your question well enough, but I didn't want to delve any more into the story. The book took me on a rollercoaster of emotions; celebrating his victories alongside him, grieving over losses with him, as well as ultimately looking forward and moving on in life. When it comes down to it, I think there are two types of protagonists that are truly remembered by readers. The first one being Hugh, a protagonist that resonates with the reader and connects with them on a more personal level. I've felt his pain and grief before, I've struggled and had to move on before as well, and seeing how he copes and deals with the situation helps me relate to him.

    The second kind of protagonist that I have yet to explain is one who is more romanticized. Think of it as a character that you've always wanted to be but never got the chance to or never could be. For me, an example of this would be Kirito from Sword Art Online. Hate me or bash the show all you want, but it's one of my favorites and I'll watch it over and over again. In short, Kirito is a teenager who is a gamer like the rest of us. In a semi-futuristic Japan where technology has allowed for VMMORPGs, Kirito is trapped inside a death game and essentially lives a second life there. Sure a death game doesn't sound too appealing, but if I get the chance to be anything you want and be whoever you want in a virtual world, I'll take that offer. In that world, Kirito lives a more meaningful life that he ever did in the real world, making multiple lifelong friends and even meets his girlfriend. As a kid, I'm sure most of us wanted to be some sort of hero when we grew up. Whether it was something realistic like a good parent, government agent, or astronaut, or perhaps something more fictional like Superman or Batman, the bottom line is we had something to model ourselves after. While none of us superhero wannabes will be able to become one, Kirito essentially becomes the hero in the virtual world, clearing the game and freeing all the players that are still stuck within that death game. In essence, he is the knight in shining armor who finds his princess and saves the day. Not only that but in the second half of season 1, we see more of him in real life. We see that he isn't the unbeatable superhero that doesn't have any flaws. He's just a normal teenager, like some of us here, and we see the despair and hopelessness he feels. I guess in the end this all goes back to my first point of being able to relate to the protagonist.

    Hopefully, I actually answered your question and didn't go off topic too much, rambling on about things that I enjoy. 

    • There are some mistakes in there but I can't go back and edit the comment. Apologies for any confusion. It was difficult to gather all my thoughts and put it down in a cohesive matter when I have so much I wanted to say.

    • Well, well, well, that is quite the answer. One that's basic and deep, as some of the better things are. 

    • I knew you'd bring out SAO, sooner or later.
      • What can I say? I love the too much ;P
  • What brings you, readers, back to the stories you enjoy? If the story is well-written and has great characters then I will come back and read it, but if the story isn't written well or if your main character is a Mary Sue or a Larry Stu then I won't read it.

    What makes protagonists interesting? Backstory, backstory, and...oh yeah flaws and traits. What I mean by this is that a character should have a good backstory and one that explains why they do what they do or why they act like in a certain way. As for Flaws and Traits, this should be self-explanatory.

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