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What Makes a Character Worthy?

Before I begin, I think it’s worth mentioning that I don’t know the answer to this question. Actually, I’m not completely convinced I even know what the question really means, but it’s certainly something worth thinking about.

A few nights ago, one of my beta readers asked: “How do you make your character worthy of being the protagonist?”

I blinked a few times at the thought, started to write a response, deleted it, started to write a different response, deleted it, started to write a third response, and finally said:

“Because she’s the witness, even if she’s not the hero.”

Honestly, before this question, it never occurred to me to demand worthiness from a character. As cliché as it might sound, I write very character-driven stories, and when a character climbs into my brain, they do it fully formed. My influence over them is about as strong as my influence over my next door neighbor’s cat. (I’m still working on the whole Jedi mind-control thing.) So the idea of constructing a character with protagonist traits in mind is somewhat foreign to me. Of course, if you’re a writer who focuses more on plot or setting to make your narratives pop, you might have the answer to this question.

So instead of listing all of the things that I think might make a character worthy, I would love to hear from you. Where do you think the worthiness comes from? Is it a character’s relatability? Is it their growth over the course of the narrative? Or is it something more nuanced than that?

Whatever you believe, please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below!

1 thought on “What Makes a Character Worthy?”

  1. A couple of things: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” and when it comes to writing characters, just “let the music play the band.” Last, but not least: keep working on the Jedi mind-trick!

    Liked by 1 person

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