How do you take your protagonist? Grump, lump or shrew?


It’s been a couple of crazy weeks. I feel like I’m going crazy because, looking back, I don’t know what has taken up all my time. A voice whispers,” Or what you’ve achieved.” Maybe I am going crazy; I swear I’m hearing voices. Move along or I will start singing the first line of a song which my daughter will repeat over and over again, ten times louder than humanly possible. It’s your choice. I might even come with you.

I thought I’d take a break from the topic of book submissions. Now, you say it. Take a break from your book submissions. Thank you; I needed that push. If I had continued with book two and forged on – and not been discouraged by my fourth rejection – I would have written almost 3/4 of book two. That just goes to show how much time it takes to sell a book. That’s a fun fact that certainly helped me sleep last night. I’m really glad I did the math. Math is bad.

Crazy. Normally, it’s just the way I like it. I mean, of course all my characters are based on Disney characters…. You mean the secondary, insane ones, right? No? Oh, well not so much…

It surprises me when I read secondary characters who intrigue me more than the protagonist. Why is the primary character more neutral when you know the author has it in them to spice up the pages with more colourful characters? Is it intentional?

I can be reading a scene  with my favourite secondary character who is all wit and grit, and they leave. No!!! Wait! Come back! Don’t leave me with this person! We don’t have anything to talk about. It’s like me in a room full of…anybodies!

Why can’t our MC have the characteristics of those secondary? Is it because they have more impact, the less we see of them? Quality vs quantity.

I know that we make secondary colours by mixing primary colours. Is this why? We have a greater range of colours to play with, if we stick to drawing from primary colours?

In my personal experience, as a reader of first-person pov’s, if you don’t connect with the MC,  there is nowhere to hide. If you read a striking, over-bearing, sassy loud mouth, then there is a greater risk of the reader saying – Woah, that is way too much. Where’s the exit? There is none? No matter, I’ll just punch through this wall.

So, this is your shrew. You touch her politely on the arm to ask if she has the time,  and she smashes your face in for the audacity. And sometimes, if the author isn’t careful, it feels like you’re reading the book in CAPS LOCK. Writing in Caps is a sure-fire way of getting up people’s noses. I love a bit of fire, me, but I need a little grump, too: sarcastic, sardonic and dry.  A grew ( grump-shrew), if you will. I think there is a main cartoon character called Gru. Not Disney though, so I’m still on track with the comparisons.

Who is the lump? There is no lump; it just worked with my title  – rhyming with ‘one lump or two’. I have given many 5 star ratings for books headlining neutral characters who come across as quiet and submissive: a nice, unassuming character who goes with the flow. The only grievance I have is when they suddenly act of character and become all ‘chinny’ ( imagine Keira Knightley becoming indignant), and I wonder how they suddenly became so feisty.

For me, I like my protagonists feisty, dry and consistent. A grew. You?










10 thoughts on “How do you take your protagonist? Grump, lump or shrew?

  1. I’ve noticed that, most main characters are neutral. I usually like them okay, but they’re rarely my favorite. Yeah some authors try not to make their main characters too abrasive. I can see why, because the main character can really make or break the book. I like a witty sarcastic main character though, they make the book more amusing. There’s nothing wrong with nice main characters, but they can’t just go with the flow, I like when they make decisions and affect their own story. Nice topic! 🙂

    • I always wonder its an intentional ploy to play it safe or if this is how they truly want them represented. I read on one blog that sometimes characters are neutral so that we can place ourselves in their shoes. Interesting thought…

  2. I’m not sure how I like my protagonist but this title would make a good Dr. Suess book. I also get discouraged by rejections, which sometimes curbs my writing enthusiasm. Keep in mind; a rejection is just somebody’s opinion. It doesn’t have to be right, and it doesn’t have to be yours.

    • I just want to get on with it, to be honest. I guess one more month of researching the process and the industry before contacting Agents – which I know will always continue – and then I can hop back in sharpish 🙂

  3. I prefer my protagonists to be feisty, what with me being an Urban Fantasy addict and all, that kind of comes with the territory. However, they do have to build up to it somewhat because if they go all out on page 1, it can end up being too much too soon. Like anything else, there needs to be a learning curve towards badass-ery.

    • Yeah, we come across feisty all the time in urban fantasy – it might be why I’m so drawn to it. And I agree with the need to build up. I read ‘Dead, Undead and somewhere in between,’ and Rhiannon was too much for me. But others really loved her outbursts. *shrug*

  4. Rejections suck and it’s horrible when they arrive, even more so when they are a form rejection. Hang in there!

    I like a feisty protagonists, but not one who is too over the top. I think even strong characters need to have moments of weakness and they definitely have to grow throughout the novel. I think you kind of need your secondary characters to be different from the MC otherwise it would just feel like the same character again and again.

    • I love it when strong characters are vulnerable 🙂 I just wish sometimes that it was the other way around: the cooky secondary character is the MC. Although, there are times with spin off series’ where I do think, ‘Okay, that person was better off in small doses…’

  5. Great post. Thanks. Yes, it always comes back to the writing. Without it, we wouldn’t even have made a start. Everything else, like our secondary characters is, well, secondary…

    • I forget that everything else is secondary – well, other than my family lol. I really miss writing my MS and can’t wait to reconnect with my characters. I think maybe a day or two or getting stuck in, then I can research agents and queries – again 🙂

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