Writing a Strong Main Character: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Your main character is vital to grabbing the reader’s attention and keeping them turning the pages. They need to care about your character and to achieve that your main character needs to be well-rounded and have emotional depth. They have to be believable. William Ryan sums this up perfectly in his book Guide How to Write. ‘Nearly everything that happens in any novel featuring these characters will happen either as a result of their actions and decisions, be constrained by their abilities and personality, or be shaped by their personality and agenda. Each detail of their personality, appearance or situation will be important to the story.’ I have put together some articles and YouTube videos about creating your main characters.

  1. How to Write a Main Character: 5 Tips for Writing Strong Main Characters – 2023 – MasterClass

Your main character doesn’t have to be a good guy, but they should be a memorable character, and involved with the progression of the plot. This article from Masterclass defines the main character and explains how the main character and the protagonist are often, but not always the same character. It moves on to share 5 tips to ensure your main character is a great character the reader cares about. These include establishing where they are from, figuring out where they’re going, making them believable characters, having them interact with supporting characters, and giving them an internal monologue.

  1. Main Character Writing: 6 Ideas for a Strong Key Cast | Now Novel

Knowing how to write an engaging main character is a vital skill for authors. Now Novel discusses what makes a main character before moving on to discuss six ways to write a main character. These ways include: knowing what drives your lead character, using secondary characters to add drama and contrast, giving the main character suspense-building challenges, describing main characters vividly, and developing main characters via minor character interactions.

  1. 20 Things You Need to Know About Your Main Character (killingitwrite.com)

Sometimes when it feels like you are stuck or your story isn’t working, it might be because you don’t know your main character well enough. Here Killing It Write share twenty questions to ask yourself about your main character. These are great for developing your character and answering the question may well throw up other ideas to further develop your main character.

  1. How to Write a Main Character Your Readers Will Love (novel-software.com)

People may be drawn to your novel for the idea, or the plot, but the characters are what keeps them reading. If the reader likes your main character, roots for them, rejoices in their successes, and feels the pain of their defeats, they will be immersed in your story. This article looks at the four types of main characters: Hero, Nemesis, Reflection, and Romance. It explores a technique for building a complex main character from the inside out and shares 4 tips for writing main characters readers will love.

  1. Writing Character Development: 45 Questions to Ask Your Characters – 2023 – MasterClass

Another article from Masterclass and a useful one. This one discusses character development and how it is important to know your main character well. It shares 45 questions to ask your main character. These questions cover physical appearance, background and lifestyle, your character’s interests, relationships, thoughts, and emotions. This is a very useful device to get to know your main character in more depth.

  1. 5 Questions to Help You Write Compelling Characters (savannahgilbo.com)

You can listen to or read this. Savannah Gilbo tells us that your characters should be well-rounded and fully developed. She shares some deep and specific questions that will help you get to the heart of who your character really is.

  1. Have You Chosen the Right Main Character to Tell Your Story? — Well-Storied.

Choosing the right main character to carry the weight of your story is absolutely vital, but knowing whether you’ve selected the perfect protagonist can be tricky — or is it? Truth is: knowing you’ve chosen the right main character for your story doesn’t have to be complicated. This episode from Well-Storied discusses why.

  1. Writing Characters With Matt Bird (thecreativepenn.com)

How do we decide on the hero for our story? How can we write distinctive but still believable characters? Matt Bird talks about aspects of writing character.


A great protagonist drives the plot by being proactive about his or her goals. In this video they discuss how you can write a main character who acts as the primary driving force behind the novel’s action.

This video discusses what you should describe about your protagonist and how can you describe these things better.

Ten ways to introduce your main character. Listen to the best ways to introduce characters who are every day, average people. Examples from Breaking Bad, The Boys, Terminator, and more.

It’s important to take the time to get to know your main character well so that they arrive fully formed on the page of your story. I hope this week’s column has been useful. As always, please get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel, The Lies Beneath – to be published by Poolbeg in April 2024.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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