Hello, everyone, I’m back with another book review—the Dream Waters series by Erin A. Jensen. I’m currently on book three of the trilogy (the author may write a fourth) and wanted to give my impressions of the story so far.
I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum. 😉
Dream Waters is a fantasy/romance series set in the present day. The gimmick of the story revolves around worlds set in dreams, where people can turn into fantasy creatures like fairies, elves, and dragons when they sleep. Sometimes the dream world can overlap into the real world.
There isn’t much action, and the worldbuilding is more on the mild side. Instead, the story focuses more on dialog and character interaction.
The word counts for the first two novels are around 400-500. Chapters are usually short and keep the prose moving.
Jensen does an excellent job with her characters, and the exchanges are very amusing, pushing the prose forward through humor and drama. The main characters are easy to connect with, as the story uses a first-person multiple POV scheme. Each character’s POV sounds unique and breaths life into the chapters.
The antagonist is compelling and acts more like an anti-hero who works with the protagonist, albeit the two are also romance rivals for the same woman. It isn’t until later that the real villain reveals himself.
Dream Waters uses a fickle and whimsical magic system in the dream world that isn’t explained much. The author could have fleshed it out more to create story depth and intrigue for the reader.
The story is loaded with romance scenes, some of them rather graphic and very promiscuous. Dream Waters uses this heavily to create romantic tension between the protagonist and his love.
Dream Waters sets our protagonist against romantic conflict and the paranormal reality of the dream world. He meets strange, fickle creatures with a diverse set of magical ability. Only by mastering his own skills in his dream world does he have a chance to save his love.
The diverse tension keeps the reader interested and set steady pacing with the short chapters.
Dream Waters demonstrates an exciting combination of fantasy, romance, and paranormal concepts I’ve rarely seen elsewhere. It has solid pacing and excellent dialog. Any lover of romance or fantasy will enjoy this book.
The main characters are well written and provide fascinating story arcs.
The descriptions of characters, places, and emotions leave room for improvement in certain scenes. The emotional details are cliche at times and without much diversity.
When descriptions kick into overdrive, Dream Waters has heavy use of profanity and graphic details, which may turn some readers off.
—My rating for Dream Waters: 3.7/5 stars: a worthwhile read—
Dream Waters has a special place in the romance and fantasy genre. The unique combination of tropes and characters makes for an entertaining novel that keeps the reader turning pages and moving the story along.
The story excels in certain areas, while it lacks in others; and the prose isn’t the best. The use of graphic scenes might turn some readers off. Additional details on the magic and dream world systems would have strengthened the world-building aspects.
Overall, if you’re a reader who loves amusing characters, fantasy tropes, fluid dialog, and deep romance scenes, then Dream Waters will be an excellent choice.
Have you any thoughts on Dream Waters? Leave it in the comments below. Thanks for reading and have a great July 4th! 🙂
Hello to my readers. Cheers to another book review. I read a fascinating series weeks ago and thought I’d share my thoughts on it. I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum.
With that said, let’s delve into Brandon Sanderson’s world of intrigue, magic, and adventure.
Mistborn, the Series
Mistborn is an epic fantasy series that spans multiple books. The story also incorporates some dark fantasy elements. Each book is long—and well worth it. Expect to invest time in each installation if you so desire.
If I could describe Mistborn in three words, it would be—gloomy, epic, and intricate. There is a strong sense of adventure too, though most of the plot takes place within a capital city. This didn’t stop Sanderson from developing detailed worldbuilding.
The main character, Vin, struggles to understand herself in a turbulent world of war, oppression, and darkness. She meets many characters in her journey, most that popped out of the page for me, the reader.
Sanderson did an excellent job with the characters. The cast came off as likable and amusing. There were a few scenes where I laughed and had to reread for the fun of it. Sanderson knows when to cut the tension with old-fashioned comedy relief—an essential element in manuscripts, by the way.
The villains were sadistic enough—and arcane enough—to warrant interest. The antagonist in book 1 is practical a god who survives decapitation, experiences immortality, and can manipulate thousands of people at will. Talk about a challenge for the protagonist!
The magic in Mistborn is intriguing—an alchemical system where a person burns metals within the body. Each metal provides a specific power when burned. The effect is usually temporary and limited by the metal resources at hand.
Superhuman feats are common in Mistborn, so, expect some Avengers-grade thrills. The action blew me away and kept me reading. It is refreshing to see supernatural action mixed it for once rather than the usual sword or gun fighting.
My one complaint is that the action is a little confusing with all the unique terms. Brandon Sanderson could have improved on the readability during these scenes. I sometimes skimmed over the fight scenes because they weren’t easy to follow.
The romantic interest for the main OC, Vin, starts late in the book and builds up gradually. It may not read like the best romance novel—and came off a little flat to me—but it fits in well enough with the plot and characters.
Romance does play a stronger role in the second book, Well of Ascension; admittingly, Sanderson did a better job of it in the second installation.
Mistborn is rife with conflict—another good detail of the book. I couldn’t go ten pages without feeling sympathy, pain, or anticipation. Sanderson knows how to keep the pages turning—never a dull moment.
I sometimes compared the feeling to Dragonlance—another favored series of mine.
The characters, magic system, conflict, and atmosphere of the book are my favorite elements of Mistborn. It set the proper tone for a dark fantasy epic novel. I imagine I’ll be rereading it again in the future.
The action/combat scenes were confusing, and the romance was not deep enough. I feel Sanderson could have developed these scenes more. Regardless, they weren’t terrible and never impeded the book’s flow beyond a few pages.
There were a few graphic scenes in Mistborn, some which made me pause (not in the wrong way, mind you). I’m all for gore and blood if it helps add dimension and immersion to a book. That said, this book isn’t nearly as extreme about it as Song of Fire and Ice (another excellent book, by the way).
Still, Mistborn isn’t for the light of heart. After all, it is a dark fantasy novel to some degree—and I still enjoyed it.
My rating: 4.5/5 stars—outstanding
Thank you all for reading. This review post was a first for me. If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions, let me know in the reply boxes below. Love and gratitude to my readers. 🙂
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Years ago, I read a fantastic book named The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. In it, the author details the Hero’s Journey. This is a powerful story element that every writer, artist, or screenwriter should understand. It illustrates a protagonist’s adventures, from safe haven to the darkest dungeon—be they literal or figurative.
—What is the Hero Journey?—
The Hero’s Journey is a story mechanic that centers around the protagonist’s progression through the various acts of the story. Typically, there are four acts for each journey, from which the audience witnesses the evolution of the hero.
The first act of the Hero’s Journey introduces the hero, while the second and third act elaborates on their ordeals, and the fourth finishes round circle. You may notice certain tropes or definitions used in each act; these are minor plot elements that form the Hero’s Journey—and some are necessary to flesh out the story.
The Ordinary World
The story begins in the Ordinary World, a mundane realm that may be a safe haven or even a prison for the hero. Here, the audience learns about the hero’s life situation, his/her abilities, fears, and personality.
The Call to Adventure
From the Ordinary World, conflict arises that stirs the hero from complacency. This may be something serious like an assassination or a minor incidence like a strange phone call. The hero now has a choice to pursue the source of the conflict and resolve the issue, or remain in his or her realm.
Initially, the hero may be hesitant to leave the safe boundary of the Ordinary World. The hero sees the risks involved and what’s to gain if s/he succeeds. Some stories skip this step with a willing or reckless hero who jumps onto the quest immediately.
The hero encounters the mentor, a wise or experienced individual. The mentor trains and/or guides the hero, providing new knowledge about the nature of the quest. This character is more often an elderly person but can manifest as a younger individual or inanimate object such as a legendary sword.
Crossing the Threshold
The mentor guides the hero away from the Ordinary World to the first Threshold—or the point of no return. The hero’s commitment is tested, determining if the hero is truly ready for the quest. The Threshold is the gateway to a new dimension, far away from the Ordinary World.
Tests, Allies, and Enemies
Now in a world of mystery and danger, the hero learns more about his/her new adventure. This strange world brings a host of challenges, allies, and enemies. Every obstacle is a stepping stone to unearthing the hero’s personality and capabilities. Abilities are sharpened, and pain is endured. Temptations are met, and the hero struggles with his/her inner shadow self.
Approach to the Dungeon/Inmost Cave
The hero prepares to enter the Inmost Cave. Setbacks occur, but the hero endures, priming for the Supreme Ordeal—an inner crisis that demands change from the protagonist. The hero must analyze personal flaws and push forward to complete the quest. This brief respite offers another connection between the hero and the audience as both understand the danger and gravity of the quest.
The protagonist faces a dangerous challenge, often against the antagonist, risking life and limb to complete the ordeal. The antagonist can also be a dark reflection of a father figure, such as with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, with exaggerated flaws of the protagonist. The Supreme Ordeal is a highlight of the hero’s quest, and everything is at stake. S/he must draw upon all the experience from the journey to survive against the antagonist.
Reward, Seizing of the Sword
If the hero succeeds, s/he emerges as a changed person. The hero also receives an award as proof of victory; this might be a mythic sword or artifact, signifying the change in the hero’s life. The hero now prepares for the last part of the quest.
The Road Back
With the quest completed, the hero begins to travel back to the ordinary world, which is the opposite of the call of adventure. Instead of worry or pain, fulfillment and satisfaction arise. The quest is not done, as the last challenge awaits the hero.
The hero faces a test or battle against the antagonist at the final Threshold—likened to the supreme ordeal on steroids. This ultimate tribulation challenges the hero immensely, evoking his/her greatest fears and requiring all the experience they’ve gained from their quest. Failure may result, leading to the hero’s death, a dearth of all hope, or even a severe injury that mars the hero.
The protagonist is reborn from the flames of demise, returning as a new person–transmuted into the true hero, and no longer the false facade from before. Following the brush of death, the adventurer conquers the final ordeal, or the Dragon at the Final Threshold, seizing the Elixir. Reconciliation with the Father is obtained and the hero is purged, fully equipped to end the adventure.
Return with the Elixir
The adventurer returns to the ordinary world as a changed person—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Using the reward from the final ordeal, s/he improves upon the ordinary world and a new era of peace and reflection results. The prize is multifaceted, manifesting either as a damsel in distress, a powerful relic, or a shift in the climate of the realms. At this point, the hero finishes the journey back to the ordinary world, but things will never be as they were.
Others Variables in the Hero’s Journey
While the hero’s cycle is a general formula for a fictional plot, there is a multitude of additional elements, such as sub-cycles that stretch throughout a trilogy. Sometimes, the hero cannot return to society as they are, instead choosing a form of exile to live a new life more suiting to his or her needs.
How The Hero’s Journey Relates to Readers
The Hero’s Journey repeats in every good fiction; it’s a retelling of human life, the growth of a person into a mature and wise individual. It is a blueprint from which anyone, as a soul, can appreciate the heroic archetypes and make changes for a more prosperous, happier life.
Thank you for reading, and happy Memorial Day! 🙂
Crafting a map for your fictional universe can be a handy resource for readers. Not every fiction has a cartographic reference, nor is it a requirement for good work. However, it dramatically compliments the space where the story takes place. When done correctly, a map benefits to both author and reader.
In this article, I’ll give an example of how I create my maps. You can take what you find appropriate and apply it to your projects. Hopefully, this tutorial will get you started. It may be a bit complicated and technical but bear with me.
—Some Startup Info—
You can use whatever media you want to design your map. I use a free program called GIMP, which is like an advanced version of Microsoft Paint, last I checked.
—Creating a Digital Map—
Layer 1: The Background
When you have your blank canvas set up, first address the background. My personal preference is a basic fill tool. Your mileage may vary, depending on what kind of background your story needs. Most maps are continents, so they require an ocean or blue background.
Something like this.
I did a fill command in GIMP for the ocean backdrop here, then added some darker shades to indicate ocean depth.
Layer 2: Landmass
The next layer I work on is the outline and general fill of the land. Choose a yellow, peach, or brown color that resembles dirt or clay—or do whatever you want of course—for the land color.
You can use a pathing or pencil tool to create the black outline of the land, as shown, then use the fill tool. Most land isn’t perfect or smooth—go for jagged edges along coasts or coves to simulate water erosion. You can also get creative and design fragment islands.
Layer 3: Land Color/Features
With the general land layer in place, you can focus on the more detailed facets of your map. This step can be done in several ways, but in my example, I use pure color to indicate trees and mountains.
That may be a doozy of a step forward, but allow me to explain. I used a light green to represent grasslands, dark green for forests, blue for lakes and rivers, brown for mountains areas, and white-brown for snow. One suggestion I have is—if you’re doing this method, select all of layer 2 with a wand tool, so you don’t create color outside the landmass.
For the water masses, I went back to layer 2 and erased parts of it. Doing this allowed layer 1 to fill in where lakes and rivers lie.
Layer 4: Additional Land Details
This is another optional and flexible step, depending on what you want for your map. I added redundant mountain figures and then floating islands here. This gave the map more depth.
Here’s a tip: create one mountain figure and then use the clone stamp tool to easily replicate it. This makes it a lot easier! 🙂
Layer 5: Landmarks
Now that you have your land finished, it’s time to add landmarks! What do I mean? Cities, castles, special areas, and so forth. No, you don’t have to draw an entire castle—use symbols to represent them.
In this example, I used simple dots with minor details. You can certainly be creative with this and draw one small castle—then, using the clone stamp tool, replicate it wherever you need to.
Layer 6: Map Legend
Every map needs a legend—a reference to tell readers what your landmarks mean. A north arrow or distance bar is also handy.
Position your legend so that it doesn’t overlap over map details. Choose a location where there is a lot of “empty space”; this will add visual balance to your map.
Layer 7: Captions
You need captions that specify major or minor points on the map. Include text for your legend, a title, and any additional information a reader should know. A small bit about who authored the map is also essential.
In this example, broader or more critical areas have a larger font size, while minor or smaller areas have a lower font size. If I were to do this over again, I’d probably make the font size for cities a bit larger, but at the same time, I don’t want to crowd the other map details with text. On an ebook or actual copy, the text would scale larger, but in the thumbnail here, it’s smaller.
Other Things to Consider
You could also add in fantasy details like sea dragons swimming in the ocean, or maybe other mythic creatures that add an “ancient” feeling to your map. Go wild! Remember, this is your map and fictional world.
Creating maps is a fun activity that adds important detail to your story. A map can be a wide variety of things—and the example above is just one of them. I hope this article has helped get you started with the map making process. Thanks for reading and click that “follow” button below if you like what you see. Cheers. 😎
Greetings and welcome back to yet another book review that I’d love to share with you all! 😀 I recently returned to the Eragon series to enjoy Christopher Paolini’s writing. Eragon is a fantasy epic series spanning several books. This review will focus on the first book, and I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum.
Eragon, book 1: Inheritance
Inheritance is a big book at around 600 to 700 pages. The plot focuses heavily on worldbuilding and adventure. There are some great fight scenes and a subtle flair of romance—although this is more apparent in book two: Eldest.
Describing Inheritance in a few words, I would say—adventure, travel, and whimsical. The plot feels very unique, although it builds off traditional fantasy tropes such as elves, dragons, and dwarves (nothing wrong there).
Sadly, there aren’t many main characters in Paolini’s first book. Eragon is the young hero who finds his mentor, Brom, and a dragon hatchling named Saphira. They travel together, meeting a few characters along the way, but the overall cast feels small and lacking.
On a brighter note, the dialog and pacing within the story are excellent and some of the best I’ve ever seen. Paolini’s books are easy to read and have a fantastic immersion factor.
The main villain, a mad king named Galbatorix, you only hear about remotely, and he comes off as your traditional psychopathic villain. That may seem cliché, but Paolini presents the mad king in a charming and workable manner. Galbatorix also has lore that helps explain his past.
The magic in the Eragon series is whimsical and fantastic, producing everything from fireballs to flight and object manifestation. It’s a soft magic system as has few rules others than the practitioner being gifted and trained in the arts.
I was surprised how quickly Eragon acquired magical techniques from Brom; then again, Eragon is the main character, so I let it slide.
Inheritance has very little romance, but it sets the stage for Eragon’s love interest in book two. Paolini did a better job at it with his second book, and it shows progression in his writing ability. Keep in mind he wrote book one when he was seventeen.
The tension in Inheritance is predictable yet entertaining. It illustrates the timely fantasy battles you’d expect with orcs, elves, dwarves, and other creatures. At times the conflict felt drawn out or lacking, but overall it’s enough to keep the reader at the edge of the seat.
Inheritance has incredible pacing and detailed dialog in a convincing fantasy world. You’re guaranteed to immerse yourself in this unique, whimsical land filled with dragons, magical swords, and evil kings.
The main characters are well written and suit their roles well, establishing a fantasy epic that ages well into later books. The reading is fluid and dynamic while challenging readers on occasion.
Although the characters are excellent, there are only a few of them, and the cast feels small and compact. At times the premise and tension slogged or felt linear, reduced to nothing but traveling with little plot.
Inheritance feels linear and could have used more characters and subplots to enrich its premise. Fortunately, the second book does it all, and more—once I get to a review of that novel.
My rating for Inheritance: 4/5 stars—good
Inheritance isn’t a perfect book and suffers from a dearth of main characters and plot depth. Yet it has a beautiful, simplistic design that just works. In particular, the magic system is enjoyable to read about, and the ancient language shows immense worldbuilding that Paolini emphasizes in his later novels.
If anything, Inheritance is the stepping stone that introduces readers to the world of Alagaësia. If you’re a fan of fantasy, I would certainly recommend this book—but then continue on into the second novel to get a better idea of the series. Eldest fleshes Paolini’s world out in ways that Inheritance never did.
Thank you for reading. Have you any thoughts on Inheritance or the Eragon series? Leave it in the comments below. Love and gratitude to all my readers. 🙂
Hello to all my lovely readers. 🙂
It’s been a steady month, working on my blog, doing book reviews, and revising my manuscript for Dragonsblade. I would like to thank all my alpha and beta readers—for all the feedback you’ve given me so far.
My WIP: Dragonsblade
Dragonsblade has progressed much in this past month alone. As I improve the story, I’m growing closer to my characters, particularly Pepper Slyhart and Tarie Beyworth. I’ve learned so much about POV depth alone—very exciting!
I’m always looking for more readers. If you’re interested, contact me via this site or check me out at www.betareader.io. My beta book cover has a big green gem on it. Thanks.
An Interesting Perspective on Writing
The other day, I ran across an article by a fellow blogger. She talks about the craft of writing and how we can use it in unique ways. I’d highly recommend checking it out here. Her blog is equally fantastic and has plenty to offer on the fundamentals for writers.
Book Review: The Faded Sun
A few weeks ago, I finished a sci-fi trilogy called The Faded Sun. I did a book review on it here if you’re curious. The books do a great job describing alien cultures, and I found the relationship between the main characters to be cute; the prose was a bit dry though, and the characterization was subpar.
I have more fantasy and sci-fi book reviews in the works. Stay tuned for more. 😛
Introductions of a Novel: Essential Tips, Tricks, and More
My article on false starts, introductions, and more contains vital information on writing the beginning of a novel. I suggest you check it out if you’re a writer. It has some nifty tips and amusing allegories.
That’s all for now, my dear readers—thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re having a lovely spring and be sure to enjoy the weather before it gets too hot. Cheers. 😀
Here’ some more creative writing from a dream segment in my upcoming book, Ethereal Seals: Dragonsblade. I had fun writing this part of Pepper’s dreams. It’s more philosophical and spiritual if anything. In the meanwhile, I’ve been super busy writing, rewriting, and revising the book segments from the feedback I get. Any feedback in the comments here is also appreciative. Thanks.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little tidbit and thanks for reading! 🙂
Pepper woke with a start, beholding an ocean of stars. The blackness of space drew her in, stealing her breath. Each star twinkled like facets of a white gemstone out of her reach. A chill ran up her spine at the view of the vast cosmos. Comets, nebulae, and multiverses spiraled around her.
“What is this?” she said with her brows arched.
A tusked bear materialized before her, its body muscular yet aged, golden fur tingled with gray. Licking its paws, the beast marked her cheek with its mitt before walking away. She shouted the bear’s name, her hand outstretched, but he did not heed it. With a howl, the animal vanished into stardust.
Confused, she paced forward on an invisible floor, each step echoing around her. A comet crashed into a small star with a massive explosion, scattering the remains like children’s toy blocks. Pepper gasped and shielded her face, but the shockwaves passed through her harmlessly.
Pepper opened her eyes. Instead of a destroyed moon, crystalline dust scattered around her vicinity. Then the cosmic sand shimmered, coming together at a point. A small flame developed, growing larger.
She stared at the sight, her jaw slack, as the flame grew beyond her line of sight. It was now a star, too massive for her to gauge. Then smaller particles of dirt came, rotating around the star like a solar system.
“Are those planets? What’s going on? Where am I?”
She tried to turn away from the awesome sight, but couldn’t. Countless universes flashed before her eyes: death and birth; an endless cycle of life and transmutation—of alchemy. She saw the future and the past, meshed together. Images of herself flashed before her eyes. She saw herself as a different, but a familiar person—a female soldier. Another vision came, as an old man; others like animals, insects, plants, and even stars. She became it all, merging with the universe.
“Please stop, whatever you are,” Pepper cried, vaguely aware of her body. She grunted and flailed her arms against the cosmic seduction.
The frequency of visions increased, hundreds flashing before her eyes each second.
“No more, please!” she begged, falling to what she assumed were her knees.
The visions ceased as abruptly as they began, leaving Pepper in the bleakness of space. The sensation choked her, robbing what residue of Creation still lingered within her entity. She hugged herself and sobbed, now empty and alone—a nothingness.
Then, she saw it.
A cluster of multiverses, each shaped like gemstones, condensed into a sphere of white plasma. Around the anomaly, arms of multihued light rotated like rings. She couldn’t count how many limbs the thing had, nor how large it was—size was meaningless—only marveled at the magnificence of what she witnessed.
“The Ethereal Seals?” she said, confused about how she knew it was Gate. She glanced down at a jade sword she held. “It must be my connection to the Gate through my sword.”
She looked up. The Gate flashed and released shockwaves of warm electricity that sent pleasure through Pepper’s body, a sensation she could only describe as divine—not fit for mortal comprehension. The smell of lavender wafted in the air, on her taste buds. Her fingers stroked the tips of the Gate. It was soft and tender.
“What do you want from me?”
The Gate flashed again and vanished, leaving her in the void of space. She then noticed a blond youth—alone in the darkness as she—not more than a few yards away. The young man shivered violently, unable to obtain the heat he sought.
A small girl appeared next to Pepper. The newcomer bore jade twintails down her shoulders and clothed in a silver dress. Her earrings were the shape of swords, and her silver eyes equally as sharp. Her hands curved to a single point, the flesh like metal.
“Master, please go to him,” the little girl pleaded, clasping her bladed hands. She took a knee, gesturing to the youth.
“Dwyrm?” said Pepper, examining the girl, who remained bowed.
Pepper approached the youth on the horizon. Her hand caressed his face, felt the cold sweat on his body, and smelled the herbal aroma of his hair. The touch was like a jolt of electricity through her arm. A warmth grew in his body, and he smiled, his eyes closed, as he cuddled with her. She dug her fingers into his robes, savoring his embrace, a smile on her lips. For a few precious moments, nothing else mattered to the girl.
She was complete and one with Creation once more.
The red girl paused as an ominous shadow formed behind the youth. The image of a black dragon roared and seized the man, drawing him away from Pepper’s grasp. She cried in vain, watching the towering dragon devour him amidst his screams of agony. Fire flared in her spine. She bent double and moaned in pain as darkness engulfed her.
Hello, hello to all my readers. It’s only a week into March and it has been a busy month. I’ve worked on my beta manuscript nonstop, seeking feedback and writing, revising chapters—you know the drill. This journey has been a long one, filled with pain and joy.
If you’re interested in beta reading, check me out on betareader.io here. If the link doesn’t work, look for an ebook with a green gem on it. Betareader is a great website for beta testing longer novels.
I’ve posted some dream segments from my beta manuscript involving the main OC, Pepper Slyhart. They’re a bit poetic and romantic, as they involve her love interest, Tarie Beyworth. The antagonist is a dragon queen, seeking to control Pepper’s heart. You can check out my latest one here.
Although it’s March, it’s never too late to celebrate fantasy and science fiction. 😀 February was #Fantasymonth, and I wrote a fun piece about my interests as a fantasy reader. If you feel so inclined, you can participate in the game here.
Last, but not least, I created a simple list about writing a protagonist, building tension between character and plot, and how to bring it all together. You can check out that post here.
That’s all for now, my lovely readers. The rest of this month promises to be a productive one. In the meanwhile, stay cool and persevere in whatever your dreams are. Love and gratitude. 🙂
A protagonist is the central character of a story. Unlike side characters, the hero influences the story the heaviest. Because the hero holds the plot together, developing a solid character is vital.
Below, I’ll discuss some tips on how to write a protagonist; things that should assist you with your hero’s development. These are guidelines, as the majority of the hero’s creation comes from the author.
How to Write a Protagonist
When learning how to write a protagonist, there are several things to keep in mind. How each parameter lines up can influence both the protagonist and the plot.
This is one of the more prominent points when you write a protagonist, as the POV can change considerably with the hero’s gender. I read an enlightening series of forum posts that discusses male and female characters. You can check this and this for additional information.
Stay true to your character’s quirks and personality. Don’t let traditional stereotypes interrupt that creative flow. If you hit a roadblock, ask a reader of the opposite sex. Often, he or she can add some insights to your character design.
Whether your hero is Caucasian, African, or some fictional alien race, have that racial background define who they are and their ordeals. Maybe a particular breed of space elves are hated in society, or they lack a specific trait that humans take for granted.
3. Height, Weight, Body Mass
Maybe your hero is a short, fat dwarf or a lanky human. How they appear to other characters can influence how the hero comes off. Perhaps a tall protagonist looks formidable and therefore commands respect.
Maybe give your hero some facial scars, a distinguishing feature that sets them apart. Make them unique, as the main character should be.
Any reader enjoys secrets; even better are secrets within secrets. What I mean is, wrap your main character in mystery. Give them an enigmatic past and don’t give out the answers too quickly.
Have your secrets evolve as the hero progresses through the plot. This evokes intrigue and helps pull the reader in.
5. Character Flaws
“There’s nothing more boring than a perfect heroine!”
Tension is fundamental on how to write a protagonist. Incorporate conflict into your characters, whether in their backstory, gender, race, or physical limitations. You can also give them technical flaws, like the inability to perform a skill or a specific action.
Giving them too many perks and too little flaws result in a bland, uninteresting hero. You want to challenge your hero, not make them a god; nor do you want them to fail in their quest.
As in video games, especially RPGs or tabletops like D&D, a character in a story has a given set of attributes. These parameters define what the actor is good at, what he or she may fail at, and perhaps unique modifiers that make the character stand out from other characters.
First, define what kind of a character, or class, the actor is. Take your stereotypical warrior: they—usually—have high strength and resilience to trauma. Warriors may not specialize in other fields of ability like magic or stealth, but they have their toolbox of skills to make up for it.
Characters like the warrior fit a niche in a company of heroes, whereas others party members address their shortcomings. Having one character do all the work often comes off as lazy and boring. Give your characters a challenge that pushes them to their limits.
7. The Hero’s Journey
The hero should be someone who struggles through the impossible. The protagonist should suffer but persevere. This is a reflection of the journey we all go through—the Hero’s Journey.
It is vital when writing a protagonist that the hero is relatable to your audience. This draws readers in and generates sympathy and a sense of kinship with the hero. Plot out your story using the Acts found in the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell did an excellent job in his novel, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I highly recommend this book.
An antagonist complements the protagonist, forming a wholesome plot. The villain often provides the tension and challenge to the hero. In traditional works, the antagonist is a reflection of the hero with exacerbated personality flaws. It could also be a father figure.
9. Leveling Up
As a character progresses through a story, they level up or gain additional attributes. With games, the hero adds new parameters to their character sheet. In a novel, leveling up is more subtle. The author may demonstrate this as a character acquiring a new artifact/weapon for study, graduating from school, or finishing a spellbook.
The development of new experience enriches the character’s worldview and the way they handle problems. A rookie fighter may view a few brigands with horror, while a veteran would display confidence.
This system of progression enhances characters and leaves a player or reader with a greater sense of appreciation by the end of the story. Typically, characters begin with little to no experience and graduate to seasoned fighters by the end of the plot.
If you’re still struggling with how to write a protagonist, check out TV Tropes here to browse a list of familiar character tropes. That may give you some idea of what you’d prefer in your character.
As an example, the farmer hero trope is heavily used in fantasy settings, but it still works. My main hero of Ethereal Seals starts out as a half-dragon farm girl who trains into a knight by the end of the story, yet she fails at some tasks that others take for granted.
There are endless variations to this trope alone, and putting your original spin on it will help it stand out.
Learning how to write a protagonist can be a complicated process. There are certain factors to keep in mind, like gender, race, body proportions, and flaws. Tropes provide a convenient starting point for character creation. Remember to challenge your hero—introduce some tension.
I hope this article has provided a good idea of the thought and time put into a character. For more information, please check out the provided links throughout the page.
Thanks for reading. Much love and gratitude. 🙂
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