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How to create protagonists that audiences identify with

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One of the elements of a great story, in addition to conflict, is a main character or protagonist that audiences can identify with.

In his book Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take, Eric Edson writes about nine ways to create a character that audiences can identify with and root for. Edson has sold or been hired to write 17 feature films, so we can learn a lot from him.

He suggests that we create audience identification with one or more of several traits or conditions, the more the better.

Courage – the Hero must have guts. If not at the beginning of the movie, then he or she must somehow develop them in the movie. Hero, in this sense, applies to both male and female characters.

Unfair Injury – another powerful way is to show the hero as the victim of some injustice.

Skill – we admire people who are very good at something, whether it is slinging a gun in a Western or playing hot guitar licks in a band.

Funny – we like people who make us laugh, Edson says, even when in dire circumstances.

Just Plain Nice – most of the characters that Tom Hanks plays are nice.

In Danger – we want them to get out of it quickly.

Loved By Friends and Family – What's not to like about someone like this?

Hard Working – even if we don't like to work ourselves, we admire people who do. Who knows? Maybe they'll do some of our work for us, if we're lucky.

Obsession – we like characters who are driven to do some something, such as right a wrong or win the gold medal.

There are lots more great ideas in Story Solution. Buy it wherever books are sold.


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