Stories revolve around protagonists and antagonists and it is a good idea to introduce them in the first chapters of your book. I believe they are the Very Important Characters (VICs) in a story. Their motivations will drive your story and we want to know what happens to them at the end. Other characters like love interests and friends play supporting roles in well-plotted stories.
I think it’s a good idea for authors to know as much as possible about VICs. Even if you never use all the information, you will know them better than you know yourself. I suggest you complete a good character biography template, like the one we use on our Writers Write course, or create your own.
Seven ways to ensure you give VICs the attention they deserve
- Make them powerful enough to make choices.
- Make them the centre of attention. Even if they aren’t in a scene, the other characters should talk about them or think about them.
- They must make frequent long appearances throughout your book. If they don’t, you may have cast a character incorrectly.
- Make their actions and decisions memorable. As VICs, they are responsible for inciting actions or responding to events.
- Make the reader empathetic towards them. Your reader does not have to like them, but they need to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.
- Make these characters viewpoint characters. Readers like to see the story through their eyes.
- Make sure they are worthy opponents for each other. If you want to create a compelling, memorable protagonist, you need a strong, three-dimensional antagonist. (Read 10 Essential Tips for Creating Antagonists)
If you do this, you will probably find that it’s easier to write your book. You won’t be giving prime time to supporting characters and you’ll be concentrating on the plot, not the sub-plots.
If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.
© Amanda Patterson