Today, we’re going to be discussing what makes our hero or protagonist compelling despite the evident flaws he/she has. It’s an interesting topic; there are so many different unique protagonists that we all love. Bilbo Baggins, Luke Skywalker (at least for the original trilogy), Jean Valjean, Anne Shirley, Elizabeth Bennett, etc… they are all different, but deep down, it all boils down to something… right?
The same can be said for our own characters. I’ll be walking through my list of my protagonists from both new and old projects. It could be a little cringe, but we will see. XD
(Complete aside from today’s topic: guess what I get to see tonight!!)
So let’s get started! We’ll start with my oldest protagonist, Brietta. (actually that may not be entirely true, but I don’t know where the dragon stories I wrote are, so for now she’s oldest protag.)
1. Brietta Swiftland
Oof, y’all. She is one big cringe-fest, guys. I loved her with all my heart, and I still do, but even so… yikes.
Honestly, I haven’t looked at that Google doc in over a year and I’m not quite sure I want to. But in that time, I have realized some flaws, as well as some highlights, in Brietta’s character. Of course, like with every character, Brietta seemed infinite and invincible as I was crafting her story, as soon as I put the metaphorical pen down, it was a little freaky to look back.
You can read the synopsis of Brietta of Skylas on my “In Progress” page, but for now, Brietta is an seventeen year old orphan who gets roped into both a gang of juvenile thieves as well as the Queen of Skylas’ dangerous mission. She is your typical “strong, independent young woman” (despite my attempts for her to not be, but looking back, it’s rather undeniable) and she is a little bit flippant with her emotions.
So despite the fact that she is a little 2D, Brietta did have some good qualities. She was my first character, so I always count that as a good quality. I had the nerve to create a character; that should be an award for something. Secondly, she keeps her hope despite her circumstances. Sure, there are times when she is scared, doubting, or plain fed up with things, but no matter what, she continues to believe that everything will work out. That is an admirable quality nowadays. I needed to write someone who believed that good things were coming, because at that time in my life, that was what I needed.
Brietta was the one who aspires.
Finally, we reached the ladder to the manhole. Looking up into the dark, I couldn’t see anything, let alone the ladder. I felt the wall. Then groping my way around, I found it. I let Greel go first. I heard a scraping swoosh as the rough sack slide in between his shoulder blades. Unlike last time, I wasn’t too sure about having another person above me. He was a bit larger than Arlin and I didn’t trust him completely not to fall on me. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t, but I wasn’t to pleased with the risk. Arlin had a sense about him that made me feel like I could trust him. Greel gave you the feeling of a hot summer afternoon where the waves of heat comes wafting over you, and the stench of the city is streaking through the air, making everyone it reaches gag. That was really reassuring. So this trip to my doom was going great.Brietta of Skylas, pg 61
I guess it was because I didn’t have a history in climbing large ladders. My arms were burning and there seemed to be no sign of stopping anytime soon. Like before, I felt myself turning upside down many times. Switching back and forth between the stable ladders to semi-rickety ladders and back to stable again, I climbed on and on. It was like a never ending, spiraling, upside down, tortuous, and in all other ways brutally slow death. Back burning, head reeling, sweat dripping down my tunic. Left arm, grasp, pull. Right arm, grasp, pull. left arm, right arm; Greel seemed to be doing fine. I figured it was because he made the trip often.
Guys, I love Blaidd so much.
So after the November I wrote Brietta of Skylas for NaNoWriMo, I started The Wolf of Talfryn. I guess it was because I needed something to get my mind off of Brietta for once.
Whatever it was, it was time for something new. I created Jaxen, the son of the Talfryn chief. When his family was murdered, he ran away to Teithio Forest from the people who wanted him dead as well. He befriends a pack of wolves, who accept them as their own, and they move deeper inside the forest. He is hiding from hurt and himself, but essentially from God. This project was about accepting that you are hurting, but never stopping there. As Blaidd finds out, hurt will never lie dormant. You have to actively seek out God so He can heal your wounds. It was a good story for me to write. It taught me so much.
The thing that stood out to me in a negative way, however, was the way that Blaidd reacted to certain things. It seemed that his emotions were very easily changed and swinging wildly back and forth and all over the place. It’s one of the things I’ve been trying to work on with my character building. Maybe he picked that up from his author though…
In the same way, Blaidd taught me many different positive things. From a practical writer’s standpoint, this was the first time I had written in a male first person. That was tricky to grasp at first, but I think I nailed it pretty well???
I actually have no idea. no one gave feedback on that part. I feel like it went well??? *crosses fingers*
Secondly, it always kind of felt like he was an extension of myself. Sure, most writers would agree that, if you write a character, they will probably reflect some aspects of your personality. He always had a semi-sarcastic commentary running through the back of his mind, but still cared intensely for everyone around him. Blaidd is a defender, but when he fails to defend, he beats himself up.
I think the thing that I loved most about Blaidd was that he was always ready to defend his family; blood or otherwise.
Blaidd was the one who defends.
My small friend had found himself a seat already and was waiting eagerly for me to join him. I grinned, scratched his ear, and sat down next to him. I dangled my legs over the edge of the plateau and locked eyes with the horizon. So much had happened to me this morning, and yet nothing had happened, in reality at least. I placed my chin in my hands. I had the growing suspicion that I had passed the point in my life where I could ignore my past. I shuddered and made myself promise not to think about it. The past is past for a reason. I would shut down completely if I had to, but I would not under any circumstances willfully think of what happened that night. Crisp orange faded into yellow and then it burst into light blue across the entire sky. Sighing I got to my knees. It was never disappointing for me to watch the morning begin. The melody of it all was enthralling. However, the letdown came after it was all over. That was my when my typical day had to start. But I never let go of the beauty I witnessed. Besides the gracious hand of God, that beauty was the only hope I had in my life now.The Wolf of Talfryn, pg 16
3. Jaxen Flaherty
Oh, my sweet Jaxen. I haven’t finished writing him yet, but his personality is golden. Once again, I believe that a large amount of his personality is mine.
whoops idk how that happened… He is my cautious but reckless bean. I know those two are kinda opposites but somehow they are both there… idk guys. He’s a puzzle.
The best thing about writing Jaxen is that he is cautious and is dealing with abandonment issues. It makes him so much fun to write. He may seem like a tough kid, but honestly, he is a smol bean.
Jaxen is a scavenger who gets caught on the job and is forced into the Shard’s military service. He is dealing with abandonment issues as well as possible PTSD. The poor bean wants nothing to do with the X Regime, as it’s referred to by the members of the Shard, as he has been told that it is what ultimately killed his parents.
Obviously, he has flaws but at this point it’s really hard to focus on the flaws because I am just trying to write the stupid thing XD.
I’ve loved getting to write Jaxen since this past November because he truly is a sweetheart. He is a marshmallow with a steel shell. It’s beautiful. Additionally, it has been great writing a character with anxiety and getting to let that play out. Because of certain elements of the story, sometimes I can let go of the reins a little and just let it flow. Jaxen is a huge part in that. Like Blaidd, he somehow inherited my habit towards inner sarcasm. It’s pretty great.
The thing that has meant the most to me writing Jax has to be the fact that like every character, but especially him, the character is part of me, but teaching me in the same breath. (which honestly is weird because how did my child somehow know than me??? I created you??? excuse me?? 😀 ) Through this one imaginary person, I’ve learned so much about being pushed to your limits and still not breaking. I’ve learned that ever n the dark parts of your life, it isn’t enough to overwhelm God. He is a loving God who wants you to come to Him with your problems. He is always protecting and providing for you, whether you see it or not.
Jaxen was the one who overcomes.
Gripping his arm around his middle, Jaxen tried to scramble to his feet. This was harder than it sounded, especially if you are ripped apart in the torso area and there is a very loud and annoying blaring sound in the background. Reaching back down again to the ground where his pack lay, he clutched it and began to run, or more realistically, move as fast as he possibly could for someone who is injured and losing blood. For those who don’t know, that isn’t very fast.Mirage of Shards, pg 22
Jaxen had no idea what he was doing. This was unusual, as well as a problem. He was normally a person who was able to react quickly in these situations. But at this point, he didn’t even know if this was a threat. Sure, there was a deep underlying uneasiness about the whole thing, but he didn’t know the situation for certain. Jaxen was basing it solely off of others experiences. Typically, he’d been told, when an alarm goes off and it sounds like Death’s Trumpet, you should run away as fast as possible. This is the advice he was going off. It sounded like enough for him.
Well, thanks for walking back through my protagonists with me!
I know it is a bit cringe sometimes, but part of growing is reflecting. Plus, it’s important to remember how far you’ve come. It’s only cringe because you know that you’ve improved! Think of it that way. 🙂 ❤
Now go forth, mis amigos and amigas, and smile. Your day is just beginning. Make the best of it. Don’t procrastinate. Work hard. Make me proud. 🙂
Love you all,