Before ,I write about the hook , which is important to a story , I just want to touch upon the making of a protagonist. How does one like their Hero or Heroine ? My personal choice is a quirky character in the mold of Charlie Chaplin. But hey , he went out of fashion a long while ago. No one laughs at Laurel & Hardy anymore. Maybe the world has become too serious for words? Moved on ,I suppose. The character of the Hero is ,I suspect , changing with the times. They are no longer straight ( by way of being simple and straightforward ).
Whatever , the writing schools ,conferences and other money making machines may teach a budding novelist ,along with how to suck up to an agent and drool all over his publishing contacts , one thing they sure must have mentioned in passing. Your protagonist better be a nice guy. He may be a bad guy to begin with , but the reader should know right away that he is a good guy after all. Confusing, but that's the way writers write.
Look at Harry Potter . Though I consider Harry Potter novels to be amateurish or at best for the nine year olds or for those who have still to grow up , the background of harry potter is what we are on right now. Right?
He is an orphan .......oooh, what a pity? My heart goes out to the poor nine year old. And made to sleep under the stairs? And given leftovers to eat? I want to kill them now for sure . Touches of Cinderella out here. That's how all nice stories begin. With howls of pity for the small chap and anger at the bad guys. Does Huckleberry Finn sound familiar? Even the great Charles Dickens couldn't do away with this prop. What the Dickens, you may say. My Hero is different. But then you won’t be writing a novel, at least not the kind which will be read anyway.
Writing Harry Potter stuff is easy. (Then why isn’t everyone writing one, I can hear you say. But that’s a story I will keep for a rainy day.) The problem here is this. The good guy should not be all that good. He may become boring. Need not have muscles like schwarzenegger or whatever (I never can get his name right. Had to Google), but he has to have some special quality. There are so many instances where in an attempt to make the writing humorous , the hero is made to look like a cartoon character. There is a thin line separating a real Hero and a caricature.
The reader is a funny guy. He wants to laugh at the Hero, poke fun at him, cry bucket loads of tears, shout himself hoarse, yet wants the Hero to remain a Hero. Get the Hero right. Make him do the right things and you are on your way to writing a blockbuster. Rest of everything is only a prop to keep the story moving. The heart of the story lies in the characters. They better hit the heart running or your story will drop dead.
I will pick up the thread in my next post. Till then mull over the matter.