Characteristics for believable characters

Do you have an idea for a novel and feel like the protagonist is missing something? Creating characters that are real, believable, and relatable can be a challenge that changes readers’ lives. We want to create someone the readership will root for – and follow along with – as they overcome obstacles throughout the story to discover themselves or achieve success. But what qualities should your protagonist have to be believable and win readers over? You can use the following checklist to guide you in creating likable (and maybe not so likable) protagonists!

Positive traits:

  • Authenticity: the protagonist/protagonist should have a realistic and authentic personality that readers can identify with.
  • Strength: A certain inner strength and assertiveness can make the character compelling and inspire readers.
  • Charm: A charming protagonist can attract readers’ attention and create a positive atmosphere.
  • Passion: a passion for something, be it a hobby, a career, or a relationship, can make the character interesting and engaging.
  • Empathy: The ability to empathize with others and show compassion can make the protagonist sympathetic and create an emotional connection with readers.

Negative Characteristics:

  • Insecurity: some insecurity or self-doubt can make the character seem human and vulnerable, making readers identify with him/her.
  • Flaws: flaws make a character believable and allow readers to connect with him/her. These could be mistakes in interpersonal relationships, professional decisions, or personal growth.
  • Stubbornness: a certain amount of stubbornness or hardheadedness can challenge the protagonist and push him/her forward, but it can also lead to conflict that moves the plot forward.
  • Past stress: difficult past or traumatic experiences can make the character more profound and complex. This can lead to emotional conflict and make the reader want to know more about the character.
  • Indecisiveness: some indecisiveness or brokenness can challenge the protagonist and make the plot exciting. It can also provide space for personal growth and self-discovery.

It is important that the positive and negative qualities of the protagonist/protagonist are presented in a balanced and believable manner. This makes the character complex and interesting, and readers can identify with his/her strengths and weaknesses.

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