2 Diva's Bookish Discussions (4): What makes a good....?

August 18, 2013

Introduction -
Hi, we're Francoise and Sunny and we have known each other since our nappy days. We're constantly having rants and raves about the latest books and bookish news. This is a fortnightly discussion that you can find on both of our blogs, so please make sure to stop by both blogs as our written content is different, although on the same topic. Our posts are not intended to offend anyone or anything but this is just our opinions and we would love it if you would share your thoughts in the comments. Enjoy!

What makes a good protagonist?
A good lead character for me is a absolute must as it as requirement that I can connect with them on some emotional level. For me disliking a character is like having to read the journey of some kid at school that you just want to punch in the face each time you see them, which as you can tell isn't very pleasant. I don't know about you but I'm very impatient so when something irks me in a book then it's most likely going to end up as a DNF. So being the picky person I am, here are the things that I think make a good protagonist
  • They have to be likeable: As I said before, I really don't enjoy reading from the perspective of someone I don't like and I feel it is a really big turn off when reading. 
  • A good protagonist is one you can relate to: If you can relate to a character then ultimately a connection happens and being able to understand the emotions and values of your protagonist is something I think is really important.
  • Strong and flawed: For me I need realistic characters who don't buckle under pressure or play the damsel in distress act. You don't need to be rude or arrogant but I don't like people that are easily stepped on. And whilst perfection is exciting, flaws are realistic and something I believe every protagonist should have as well as a little bit of vulnerability at times.
  • Intelligent Characters: You don't need to be a genius but I like characters who are switched on and straight-forward. That are open minded and not blind sided. I also love a bit of witty humour.
  • Originality and Character Development: I really don't like characters that are the same as all the others you read about. While I understand they can't all be 100% different, I as a reader crave originality. It's almost important for some situations that there is a certain percentage of Character Development. Especially in a genre like dystopia where you're obviously not going to be the same person if you home is bombed.
What makes a good antagonist (villain)?
  • Back story as to why the villain is so manipulated: I love hearing the reason behind the manipulated and damaged characteristics of the villain and the motivation behind their destruction. Perhaps they were mistreated as a kid or just hate people in general.. but I feel that that back story makes the antagonist more villainy and more structured.
  • That moment when the antagonist ends up being the least person you expected: I love it when you can't exactly pinpoint who the villain is and when you find out who it is, it's not who you thought it would be. And I really like it when the antagonist doesn't look like your typical villain because then they are obviously going to stand out more.
  • The clever villain: I love it when the villain is just so smart and clever that you can't help but praise him for his intelligence. That moment when your so in awe of his/her's well thought actions that you can't even be frustrated.
  • The end of the villain is well thought out: I hate it when your villain is finally destructed and it's by something as easy as a gun when they are made out to be indestructible. I think that for someone who is known as undefeatable and pure evil, they should be killed with difficulty and well thought out action.
  • Emotional: I guess this ties in with the whole needing a back story but I think the villain's story should then be the emotional reason towards his motivation. If that makes sense.
I hope you enjoyed what I like in my characters and maybe you feel the same way. So let me know through comment or tweet what characteristics you like your villains and leads to have. Please stop by Francoise's post because whilst we are collaborating and discussing the same topic, our content is different and individually written.

What do you think makes a good protagonist and or antagonist?

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  1. I really dislike it when characters are completely perfect, but I also get annoyed when they're too sensitive or whiny. It just takes a lot of balance, I guess. On the other hand, sometimes I don't feel right judging an MC, especially if I'm reading fantasy/dystopia because obviously I've never been in that kind of extreme situation and have no idea how I'd react. But in the end, I guess you can't really help liking or disliking someone for one reason or another. I totally agree with your section on villains. If they have no back story at all and they're just this cardboard-y figure meant to laugh evilly like in cartoons, I lose interest real fast. Nice post!

  2. Wonderful post my darling. Obviously since I planned it with you!

  3. Yay, another Sunny and Francoise post! :) Great discussion. In my opinion, protagonists need to be strong but not perfect. A flawless character is really unrealistic and also not relatable. I love kick-butt heroines, yay for Katniss and Tris! :D

    Like you said, a villain with a backstory makes the book much more real and interesting. There needs be a reason why they're evil and they have a motive to whatever bad deed they're doing. And CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT *throws confetti ;)

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love this post, I personally always have a soft spot for villains when they have a sad backstory and is witty. My biggest pet peeve with protagonists is when they are shallow, I have DNFed books for that reason.

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

  5. Relatability is definitely a big thing for me when it comes to protagonists. I have to have a connection to the character I'm readng about or I don;t see much point in reading it.

  6. I can totally relate to this post.
    I hate characters who I don't understand. If they don't have something that makes me see where they're coming from then they'll probably suck to me.

    Great post!

  7. I agree with you about protagonists and villains. Sometimes it can be fun when the villains are more gray than black, which I think you are more likely to get when you understand their motivations. And I like when they're more complex and may actually show a soft side, some sort of vulnerability. Basically, the more realistic the characters, the better. Fun post! ~Pam

  8. Hi! I found you on teen blogger central. This was an awesome post. I'm in the middle of my second re-write of a novel and I know character development is something I need to work on - my focus for the first draft was just to get it onto paper. Your ideas have been really helpful.

    In both movies and books, it frustrates me when the antagonist is too easily defeated. I think the most important point for a protagonist is one I can relate to... cos I'm not going to an un-flawed, un-intelligent character who stays the same no matter what the circumstances.



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