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June 18, 2009


Louise Ure

Dana, I was having exactly the same problem with the female protagonist in my current WIP. She's crabby, a failure, unsocial, not pretty. I wasn't sure I (or any readers) would want to spend 400 pages with her.

So I made her a man. Funny how all those traits work just fine for a male protagonist. ;-)

Dana Cameron

Thanks for stopping by, Louise!

Sometimes it's a name change, a gentle nudge, and sometimes it's a drastic make-over--or a sex change. But yeah, if a character isn't gelling, it's probably because there's more work to be done. Isn't it a relief when you figure out what the deal is!

Sheila Connolly

I love Louise's suggestion!

If you want to be trite and superficial, give Anna a pet (a furry one, not a snake or an iguana). She can reveal her inner soft side in conversations with Fluffy.

Dana Cameron

Sheila, it would take a whole dump truck full of kittens to work on this one!

And...I have to admit to being burned. When I finally gave Emma Fielding a cat, it turned out not to like her. :( She had to wait another couple of books before she got one who did.

Thanks for stopping by!


I had to wrestle with that concern in the writing of my book, NEVER SAY DIE. Though I'd used the protagonist, Zoey, in a couple of published short stories, the novel was set before those stories, when Zoey was still quite damaged. On one hand, a deeply flawed character gives a writer a great opportunity to work with a strong growth arc, and I enjoyed that. But I continually wrestled with her likability.

But some of the great characters in this genre are quite flawed. Dave Robicheaux struggles with sobriety, Harry Boesch with anger, to name just two.

Wait! Those are men. Louise may have discovered something important.

Dana Cameron

Oh, absolutely, Kris, and I have no problem with her being flawed. Flawed characters can be BIG FUN to write! And I'm not so worried about her being incredibly likable, either, as long as I can nail down that ineffable something that makes her...engaging. Interesting. It's such a balancing act, especially for a main character.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Louise--that's wonderful.And scary.

Dana--maybe YOU don't like her, but maybe someone else would. Or maybe they used to like her.. Why? And who would that be?

Dana Cameron

You're right, Hank. It turns out there are people who've been with her for a long time, and that must be for some reason. I need to spend some time on that. Nice catch!

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