33

Yes, absolutely. Protagonists aren't perfect. In many ways, protagonists making mistakes helps to humanize them. Of course, it seems wrong to write a scene where your hero, the good guy of the story, accidentally gets somebody killed or completely screws things up for other characters - after all, won't that make them unlikable? Doesn't everybody hate that ...


27

How to not be offensive in a nutshell: Make the characters complex. For a lot of people who care about making the right characters, they feel like they have to rely on tons of research. While research is a good thing to use, my best advice is really just to make humans and not to worry about being offensive. While yes, you may need research if their ...


21

"He's selfish, arrogant and grumpy, and tries to find blame in others for everything wrong with his life." Other than the blame, he sounds like Dr Gregory House and Dr House managed to engage people enough to survive 8 seasons on TV. I would argue that the main character doesn't have to be "likeable" as much as "relatable". If ...


21

The readers need to care. If the protagonist is likable, that is one reason to care. If the protagonist is not likeable, you need to give the readers something else to care about. This is difficult, but not impossible.


18

You can do this, but I think you have to ask what you're hoping to achieve by doing so. When you say: The obvious answer is usually "as long as you have a compelling / interesting / engaging enough story / character then it's OK to have an unlikable character", but this suggests that all other things being equal, your character should be likable. ...


17

In this context, these aliens are probably going to be very domestic and familiar to this character, just as familiar as dogs, birds and cats are to us in the real world. If she lives in this society of aliens, she has probably seen them before and interacted with them before. Therefore, if you're introducing many of them in quick succession, you don't need ...


12

I will treat them as a science based question rather than opinion bases, I'm sure some might say that, and consider your question to be the following: What are the consequence of having a character exemplify courage defined in this way? And your second question: would a courageous character limit my ability to write an interesting story.? The problem with ...


11

What's important is that the character is comprehensible. A character who does horrible things is one thing; a character who does horrible things for no apparent reason is quite another. It's the former we typically see. Maybe they think they're doing the right thing; maybe they feel slighted by a perceived injustice; maybe they have an inflated sense of ...


11

Does it serve the story? Then, yes. Putting that particular mistake in will alter who your target audience is, though. Some people will find it too brutal; some people will find the lack of such things means that the stakes are too low. Also, how you treat it will affect how your audience reacts to your character. How serious the mistake is, whether it ...


10

Some people are insecure about their freckles. Some people say "I don't like my nose, it's too big!" This doesn't automatically offend everybody with freckles or large noses. If someone says they hate being short, that wouldn't offend me, a fellow shorty. We all have hang ups about different physical traits. Your MC can be insecure about her ...


10

Yes this is completely normal. You're making a pretty big decision for the rest of your story, and you're probably just second guessing yourself, trying to figure out how to spin it after the big fight scene. Most of the time, the fight scene itself isn't actually all that important, but after all the I-shoot-you-and-you-shoot-me-and-I-shoot-you-back-etc-etc-...


9

These days there is someone who is offended by everything so anything you do will offend somebody. Do not worry about your example. The eyes should not bother anyone especially if you use the correct medical term for that condition. The reference to race will lake offend half the people no matter how you do it.


8

Well, first off, I kind of hate your backup plan. It's just... simply because someone is the hero of the story, doesn't mean they have to be unflinchingly, superhumanly heroic at every turn. The larger-than-life hero archetype has been done to death. Sciborg is right to invoke the Mary Sue trope. It's not that it doesn't work, it's that it's boring. Your ...


6

Describe Only What Matters Physical descriptions are the shallowest form of character building. They help the reader to visualize the character, but they do not help the reader know the character. We know someone by understanding their choices, and height, skin color, etc. are not choices. If you want to give descriptions of your aliens, think about how ...


5

I agree with a lot of what @seallussus said. Let me just add some thoughts. Just because a character has one great virtue -- courage, in this example -- doesn't mean he can't be flawed in many other ways. I was amused that @seallussus mentioned Hamlet and I was thinking of the very same character. If you haven't read the play, you might read it. Hamlet is ...


4

While most people would advise you with the same old: it is in the execution. I will agree but have to add several things. Time. The Lannister brothers go through an insane journey that is still being continued in the books. Kaladin from The Way of Kings goes through hell and back. I won't bore you with more examples. So what is the common thing that makes ...


4

Think about Asimov's Laws of Robotics that make them perfectly safe and predictable, but then has stories where they mess up in "unexpected" ways. IOW, he predicted computer programming. Your character is affected by his mortal form. This includes limited knowledge and capability, and perhaps his learned behavior does not follow due to changes in ...


4

I recently read through the short story Trapalanda by Charles Sheffield. In the 25-page or so story, the main character is rather unlikeable. He is selfish, sexist, and jealous of another disabled character. These are all bad traits, but they, along with the premise, make the story interesting regardless. What's more, over the course of the story, we learn ...


4

Simply put, it's okay to kill the main character. There's just one thing to worry about, make sure that you don't make it to where the character dies because they die. The reader shouldn't walk out thinking "What was the point of reading the story if he was going to die?". If this is what you get out of readers, then your character, no matter how ...


4

looks down on herself because she thinks she is ugly That's the difference. You as the author aren't saying that from the outside, the character thinks of herself as that from the inside. Many readers have issues today with HP Lovecraft, who (in common with many people of his class and era) was profoundly racist. Various stories describe how ugly someone ...


4

My thought is to examine and write down your feelings and transfer them to the character. If you feel jittery before the battle, then she feels jittery before the battle, etc. You are in a perfect place to imagine her feelings. Also you can have the same attitude as your MC, "“Enough of this crap. I’m gonna write this thing anyway, might as well just ...


3

Consider putting your character into situations where what makes the character interesting is not the character's courage. Consider: How would an irredeemably courageous hero handle the trolley problem? A dastardly villain has trapped the hero on a runaway trolley. There is no way to derail or stop the trolley. If the trolley maintains its course it will run ...


3

Also, since "courage" is the balance between cowardice and recklessness, then theoretically reckless behavior should be off the table as well? That is a very nuanced version of courage. A more basic description is "willingness to do 'the right thing' regardless of consequence". Which does not remotely rule out recklessness, short-...


3

You've really got two questions here: Is killing too brutal for my book? Do my characters need to make mistakes? No one here can answer #1 for you. It depends on your audience and the tone of your book. I won't go so far to say that books for kids shouldn't have killing; people die in Harry Potter and even in nursery rhymes. You should be careful about ...


3

Several Options: So I assume you aren't a well-established author, and people don't have preconceptions about how you will write. Obviously, you'll want to use gender-neutral names (like Terry) or establish them as nick-names (Bobby as a girl, for example). Don't use pronouns. It will be a little weird, but in most situations, you keep gender out of it. Use ...


3

I have read french letters to their family from the trenches of the first world war. I have read accounts of the sailors that were part of the sailor uprising in Kiel in 1918. I have read the accounts of german soldiers of both Wehrmacht and Volkssturm from the second World War, the former from early in the war as well as from Stalingrad, the latter from the ...


2

Problems make Great Drama: As a person who's life has been affected closely by murder of/by family, I want/need stories that show redemption of wrongful people, but also wrongful people being found responsible for the actions/choices they have made. It sounds complicated, but that can be good and bad. Is there such a thing as too many challenges? A story ...


2

I can only say for myself, but I think that a character is only overloaded with problems of the new problem doesn’t significantly add to the issue. If you can cut a problem and not much changes - cut it. However, there are ways to add weight to problems in order to keep them: such as keeping an emotional toll. If your character starts as a "normal" ...


2

If you have 7 or 8 species you want to introduce, don't introduce them all in the same chapter. Spread the introductions over multiple chapters, and try to have at least 1 chapter without any new species being introduced in between each chapter where 1 or 2 species are introduced. Don't feel pressured to introduce all species early on in the book. It's ...


2

If you use the definition of courage as seeing the danger clearly and still doing what one must, there is no problem. Your character can simply accept the danger and move through it - and such need not be dull. If you remove (or temporarily disable this virtue, which is his province) what is left? Do you have a well rounded character or johnny one note? ...


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