49

Your protagonist is not the only iron the mentor has in the fire In Avatar, the Last Airbender, Uncle Iroh is a powerful and interesting mentor character (with his own complex arc). He has his role of providing advice for Toph, and maybe a little for Aang - but he's primarily the mentor for the show's first antagonist. He's interested in seeing the Avatar ...


44

When the main character is physically invulnerable, then that gives you an opportunity to highlight their emotional vulnerability. Address how his newfound superpowers affect his relationships with other characters. Don't threaten the main character, threaten the characters who are dear to him. Don't threaten the main character with physical injuries, ...


35

Reading your description, I came to this conclusion: without changing the plot, Autumn can be replaced by an object, a token of friendship that’s an actual token. You’re right that something needs to be done. Having a character present in the middle of the action but not doing anything or even being mentioned is confusing for the audience. And having a ...


34

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 ...


32

Three ideas that may serve to make your world a bit harsher: Your protagonist and their mentor aren't always on the same side Maybe the mentor's been given incomplete information. Maybe there's a genuine difference of opinions regarding how to handle a morally grey situation. Maybe whatever's going on touches on a past trauma of theirs that they are really ...


31

Kind of yes? The big problem with Bury Your Gays in literature is that the gay characters' death mostly exists to motivate or evoke emotions other characters around them and they aren't characters in their own right. Your description of the plot makes it seem like the character's death was merely used to get an emotional reaction out of the audience, not ...


30

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 ...


27

Different people get different things from a story If you think of the audience (or potential audience) for a story like a crowd of people sitting and watching as a tv show is being filmed, not every person in that audience is there for the same reason. Some people are a fan of the star actor, some people are there because their kid is into this sort of ...


25

This seems like you have a character who is going to die at the end of your story who happens to be gay. Objectively I see zero issues with that - the only reason there is a question is because of the history of stories killing off LGBT+ characters. I guess I would say to just be careful to make this guy a real character with his own purpose, and don't kill ...


23

A screenplay is written primarily for the production crew, not for the audience. So you don't have to be afraid of spoiling any plot points by using the real name of the character even though the audience isn't supposed to know it yet. Switching the name of a character mid-script would be confusing for the production crew. It would just lead to ...


22

Unable to be killed is not the same thing as unable to be defeated. Being captured, wrapped in chains, sealed in a box filled with concrete and dropped in the ocean may not kill the protagonist, but it should "defeat" him for at least some period of time. Also threats to others may also defeat him. A missile strike may not hurt the protagonist at ...


22

Don't ascribe human motivations to non-human creatures I think the core of the problem you are encountering is your decision to ascribe a pathological motivation to your protagonists. If you start with a set of rational needs for your sapient monsters, then I think you'll end up with better characterizations, especially if those needs operate on multiple ...


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.


20

There are several writing tropes oriented around misinterpreting prophecies or signs of "Chosen Ones" that may give you some ideas. Prophecy Twist The prophecy comes true as it was written, but in an unexpected way, and the signs didn't mean what everyone thought they meant. The classic example is Lord of the Rings, when the Witch-King confidently ...


20

Warning: This answer contains a link to TV Tropes. Please be careful accordingly, or you will fall into a vortex and never return. This literary trope is called "Posthumous Character," and although your character isn't actually dead (presumably), the same idea applies. You are trying to get your audience to like, understand and see a character who ...


20

Since you haven't actually sent the book to anybody, you can change the names all you want and nobody will know. I'd say sure, go ahead and change it. If you are still on the fence, you can ask the betas (that's the great thing about betas; they're there to help). Tell them, 'I got these two names I'm not entirely set on. Do you think they're fine or should ...


19

Make it ambiguous: If the woman can't tell how old he is, she may refer to him either way. If your point of view allows it, show her having an internal debate about it. If she's not sure, make a bit of a game of it. This, BTW is a great opportunity to add a description of him, and also reveal your MC's thinking and frame of reference. She obliquely tries to ...


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. ...


18

There's no definitive answer to this question, because it depends entirely on the POV character, who exists only in your mind. How would she refer to him? My own instincts align with those of @DM_with_secrets (from the comments) --an American teenager would probably describe another teenager neither as a "boy" or a "man" but as a "...


18

God Syndrome: What does Superman from the 1950's look like today? No hero or villain can stop him. He's invincible. So what do you do if you're a bad guy, and have to deal with that? What happens when lily-white conservative Ultra-gal, who's 200 years old and doesn't look a day over 20, starts beating up ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community for their '...


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 ...


17

I think the fact that you yourself forgot about her is indeed a sign that she's not really adding anything to your story. Personally, I believe in keeping characters to the minimum you actually need, because I think you end up with a stronger story, while making fewer demands on the reader. If you can't keep track of this character, or care about her, ...


16

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-...


16

Jihad: Writing is about the human condition. But the human condition is a big, messed up gnarly thing - and guess what, if you're human, you're living it. Fiction is rarely about people with nice, stable well-adjusted lives who understand themselves and others, get along well, and are generally happy. Jihad doesn't usually mean "holy war" but ...


14

A Few Ideas: Letter of crucifixion: The character's name starts with a T, but no one names their kids with a T, because children with T names are killed by some power trying to prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled. The reincarnation is supposed to have a name starting with "the letter of crucifiction". In reality, the crucifixion under ...


14

Show how they matter to people: I have a major character in my novel who is dead, and appears only as a spiritual entity. The ghost interacts with people by sending dreams and visions. She is also one of the most sympathetic characters in the story. Sendings and visions are not a material way of showing up, but can work. Dream sendings operate like a ...


14

I know you said this is based on an ancient Roman custom, but the way you describe it - a longer name used in formal settings and a shorter version used among friends and family - makes it sound like "Odaenathus" is his real name and "Odainat" is a nickname. This, to me, feels similar to how a character in a modern novel might be called &...


14

Power corrupts, but it doesn't have to: For an interesting reference, you might want to check out THIS question. What you are describing is ANY power dynamic. The relationship is no different to one where one spouse earns a lot more than the other, where one has family influence and connections and the other doesn't, or where one spouse is a police officer ...


14

A question to ask is: are your secondary characters gay just to tick an LGBTQ+ box? A test of that is how rich they are as characters in their own rights. If they are rich deep characters, who we grow to love because of who they are, not just because of what they are, they aren't just sacrificial, and the death is clearly not just gratuitously "isn't ...


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