Ingredients for making the VERY BEST main character!

Lately I’ve been wondering what does it take to get a load of random character traits, stir them altogether, shove them in the oven and see what comes out… Because this is the year of baking metaphors 😉 In all seriousness… this post isn’t very serious 😉 (I just wanted a fun way to talk about some character tropes I don’t like). Okay time to look at the ingredients…

Let’s start with a dusting of special snowflakery. A main character has to be good at everything… otherwise how will you know they are the main one? The best way to achieve this is to have them be the best from the very beginning (but they don’t know how great they are) because if you leave them to ferment, they might simply explode in the process! No, better to just get an instant mix of perfection. Never have them be vulnerable; always give them every ability in your world. There should be nothing they can’t do- because is the point in side characters if you can’t outshine them and how else will your readers know your mc is a badass? What’s that you’re saying? You want flaws? Oh well, if you insist…

Make them clumsy! You don’t want your character to have any character imperfections (that they can work on) so instead give them two left feet! And make sure they trip over at every opportunity. Have them be uncoordinated to the point of it being baffling, causing genuinely life-threatening scenarios. Don’t worry- this won’t come across as slapstick, because you will have a love interest darkly berating them for nearly getting everyone killed over an untied shoelace. Speaking of which- introducing…

The love-interest-appendage. This entirely makes up for your main character having no personality. This love interest should be moody, speak only in grunts, but be impossibly hot. Not sounding exciting enough? Never fear! When in doubt, make two love-interest-appendages! (this will be useful later!)

And if you need these characters to do something together or bond in anyway, you can just have them be pretentious. They can do things like recite “memorised” verses back and forth. Just pages and pages to fill with someone else’s words- because that’s how you hit the big word counts! Thus you have now given them “obscure” interests that no one else has- which is especially good if you have a female lead, cos then they are conveniently…

NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS! Oh wow- who doesn’t love this trope? This character doesn’t like “normal” girly things like clothes and makeup, cos they’re just so cool and unique. One of my favourite things to include in this trope is having them be bitchy about all other female characters- especially ones who have boobs you envy or blond hair or (*OMG*) boobs and blond hair!! Because girls that have features you envy deserve your ire and this teaches teen girls really healthy messages about how they should treat other women. Also don’t have them be friends with other women- paha! No way is this possible when there is man candy on display. Let them all claw each other’s eyes out- that’s a fun form of conflict. And on the topic of bitchiness…

Your protagonist should be nice-ty. Aka they are really quite nasty, but somehow they believe (and everyone around them believes) they’re a saint. And here’s where that love triangle gets realllly useful- because you can have them cheat on their significant other, emotionally and physically, all the while having other characters saying how sweet they are and how they’re only in this predicament because they’re so nice (barf). Who knew this dilemma came from a place of pure goodness? I’m telling you, this book is going to teach so many *positive* messages.

And when in doubt, you should add some telling into the mix. Make sure to have other characters tell how clever the main character is for instance. Don’t have them problem solve a complex test or put them in challenging situations they have to get out of- just put in that they’re a certified genius and your reader is sure to believe it!

Plus, you can blend in the fact that they’re a plain jane (/plain john). And yet everyone is falling over themselves for their god/dess-like features. Weird that!

Also, add a pinch of bad parenting. Now, I say a pinch, because I don’t just mean removing the parents from the story altogether or an example of abuse. I mean, they should be non-absentee absent parents. I know a lot of people complain about dead/missing parents- so you know what’s better? A parent that’s *right there*… buuut completely ineffectual. Somehow they managed to bring up a child to near adulthood, not letting them run into traffic etc, but at the last hurdle they seem to have just taken their foot off the brakes and don’t seem to care whether their teen lives or dies. Smart.

Mix it all together and what do you get…

Bella Swan!

Okay, just kidding! But it’s pretty close! Do you agree with me here? What ingredients would you add? Let me know in the comments!

Things that horrify me in books: terrifying tropes and writing styles I really don’t like!

orangutan list

It’s nearly Halloween and- rather tangentially- that’s got me thinking about *scary* book tropes. No, not literally scary. I barely ever even read kids spooky stories. I mean, things that realllly make me break out in hives and send a shiver down my spine for all the wrong reasons. I had a good think about this, cos I didn’t want to include anything that could potentially be done well. These are the most irredeemable, the gah-why-is-this-a-thing, the KILL ME NOW tropes. That said, it goes without saying, these are my personal preferences, so if you like any of these, feel free to go on liking it *yada yada yada*. Without further ado, here’s some things that will probably (almost definitely) make me hate a book:

gollum not listeningStream of consciousness– this is my number one NO GO. Granted this is *absolutely* a matter of personal taste. I’ve tried loads and it never works out. I can barely ever manage to finish stream of consciousness books- let alone enjoy them. Whenever I pick something up in this style my brain just goes “lalalala not listening!” At this point, I’m genuinely frightened to pick up anything else in this style.

rolls eyesStupid moralising– if you really wanna make me freak out though, just include some moralising. It’s especially scary when it comes with simple platitudes like “war is bad” and “be nice to each other”. Wowww no one could’ve figured that out unless a brave author points it out. Sometimes, this is even combined with some post-structuralist pseudointellectualism crap where the author goes on a nice nihilist rant about how nothing means anything… I could really live without it.

pottyBodily functions– there are some exceptions where this is acceptable (ie comedy) but basically this is a no-go. Disgusting me is a sure-fire way to put me off a book. Speaking of shit things…

 

 

cheatCheating Love Triangles– what’s worse than a love triangle? A love triangle that involves some kind of cheating. What’s sad is cheating is often the default in books revolving round love triangles (and why I typically hate them).

 

your eternal rewardThe boy/girl is a rewardpeople still do this in books?!? I hear you yell. Unfortunately, yes. It’s not just the failure to make the love interest an actual person, it’s the fact that sometimes this is combined with…

 

escapeMiraculously escaping the friendzone– don’t get me wrong, I like friends to lovers, but when a character repeatedly says “I don’t want to be with you!” it can come off badly when they suddenly change their mind (usually for no apparent reason other than getting bored of arguing). This often ends up undermining “no means no” and I’m not a fan.

it was all a dream.gifIt was all a dream– I mean, what is more horrifying than getting to the end of a book and finding out it was all a waste of time? The same goes for anything else in this vein, like winding the clock back or ending up back where you started (when there’s little to no character development). But there are other *awful* ways to end a story, like…

voldemort
best friend material, amirite?!

The villain saying: “I was trying to help you all along”- ugh- surprisingly there are books that genuinely have the antagonist about-turning in the last chapter. I pretty much raged to read a story where a baddie said “you thought I was chasing you across Europe? Noooo I was trying to warn you about the other guy stalking you!” (a banana goes to anyone who knows what book I’m referring to 😉 )

set upThis entire book was setup for the next one! Yeahhh there are certain authors who think it’s a good idea to write an *ENTIRE BOOK* that has no plot of its own and to prep you for the sequel. Then, they go and stick a cliffhanger in to get you to tune in next time for an actual story… maybe… (it’s scary how often I’ve fallen for this trick!) There’s only one thing worse…

i don't remember.gifAmnesia– I hate when characters- particularly protagonists- get amnesia. It basically allows the author to repeat entire storylines/romances/character development. It’s so lazy and you end up with an entirely recycled story. So yeah, at the risk of repeating myself, I hate amnesia in books.

So, what are your thoughts on these? And what tropes or writing styles will instantly put you off a book? Let me know in the comments!