Skip to main content
  1. Arts & Entertainment
  2. Books

Writing relatable protagonists

See also

Characters are a huge part of what makes a story convincing and interesting to read. The characters in a story have to be believable, or nobody will take them or the story seriously. They can't be all good or all bad, because both exist in everyone. It's hard to balance these qualities, or at least make sure there are redeeming qualities about your antagonist and less-than-desirable qualities in your protagonist. (This makes them complex. Readers like that.)

Let's start with the protagonist. They're probably the first character your readers will meet in the story (unless you just decide to really shake things up, which is totally fine as well), and generally the point of the protagonist is for the reader to like and identify with them. Obviously the protagonist will often be inherently good, but if there’s nothing “wrong” with them, they won’t be all that relatable. Your protagonist shouldn’t necessarily have an overwhelming fatal flaw that causes the downfall of an empire or anything, but there should be something to prove to the readers that the character isn’t perfect. Give your character a slight temper, impulsive decision-making skills, stubbornness, or something along those lines. Everyone deals with issues like that at some point, so it’ll make your character easy to identify with. Make their imperfections a part of your character and a part of your story.

Relatable characters also grow. Many times, once a character has established their personality it’s hard to want them to change. But without change, where would the story be? A character should learn from the things that happen to them, and they should change in some way because of that. There should be some revelation or a series of small happenstances that cause the character to rethink something (or several things) and change their ways. Most of the time this isn’t a 180-degree lifestyle change; but it’s something that is significant enough to be noticed by others. Flat characters never learn anything, and readers can’t identify with flat characters. There are really no restrictions on what the character has to endure in order to grow and develop, and as long as the character learns something or changes somehow through the course of the story, you can avoid writing a flat character readers won’t want to spend time with.


Arts & Entertainment

  • Jack White
    Reddit users have fun with Jack White's unhappy face at a Cubs game
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
    The first 'Fifty Shades of Grey' trailer has been released, leaving fans wanting more
    Movies Buzz
  • Big Bang Theory
    Will CBS be able to ink a deal with the cast of 'The Big Bang Theory' before shooting begins?
    12 Photos
  • Hercules
    Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson brings fun, adventure, and heart as 'Hercules'
    5 Photos
  • Shermar Moore
    Daytime television is about to get a lot hotter with Shemar Moore back on the screen
    11 Photos
  • Adele
    Adele's infant son has won a substantial amount of money in a paparazzo lawsuit
    Today's Buzz