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How to create a strong main character

One of the essentials of a good novel is a strong main character, someone the reader can have empathy with, urge on, and on occasions get angry and frustrated with. Someone the reader can get close to and believe in.

I like heroes so I guess my strong central characters have to be that even if they are often reluctant heroes sometimes, as is Adam Greene in one of my stand alone thrillers, In Cold Daylight.

Heroes have to have flaws too, after all they are human. So their backstory, their emotional well being and mental state of health is all important. 

Why do they do the things they do?  What motivates them?  What distresses and upsets them. What is their great fear and their redeeming quality? Just how well do you know your main character/s - their motivations and personalities? These all dictate how they will act and react.

DI Andy Horton, the main character in my mystery crime series, is flawed and rugged, a maverick cop who hates paperwork and playing by the book, which of course gets him into trouble with his superiors, particularly the ice maiden DCI Bliss, his boss in Portsmouth CID.

Horton is prepared to take risks and is fearless in his search for justice. He's been raised in Children's Homes after his mother abandoned him as a child which means he has a desperate need to belong, a need that is in some way satisfied by belonging to the family of the police force and yet he continually puts himself at risk of being isolated and worse, being thrown out. His experiences as a child have taught him never to trust and never to confide, both of which leave him on the outside. Being alone is his greatest fear, and yet he is alone.
In Cold Daylight - ThrillerIn my thriller, In Cold Daylight, Adam Greene is a reluctant hero. A successful marine artist he wants nothing more than to be left alone to paint. He opts for an easy, quiet life leaving the thrusting ambition to his wife, Faye. He wants to forget the past, including his mental breakdown following the tragic death of his girlfriend, for which he holds himself responsible. He is always overshadowed by the legacy of a lack of self esteem caused by a domineering father and a highly successful manipulative brother.

All that changes though when Adam is forced to take up the quest to find the truth behind the death of  his closest friend, firefighter, Jack Batholomew after Jack is killed in a fire. In doing so Adam has to face the demons of his past. He has to discover why so many fire fighters from one watch have died of cancer and why Jack himself was killed in an attempt to hide a scandal that goes to the heart of government. Adam puts his life on the line. He is tested to the limit and is finally forced to examine his past and confront his relationships with his over ambitious wife, his father and brother.

In For The Kill - thrillerAlex Albury, the protagonist in my thriller, In For The Kill, has it all; a successful business, loving wife and kids and a glowing reputation. Then someone steals his identity and executes a skillful and clever campaign against him by planting fraudulent information on his computer. Before Alex can fully understand what has happened he finds himself convicted for fraud and embezzlement and serving a prison sentence. His life as it was crumbles. 

On his release from prison he sets out to discover who has ruined his life and why. He has nothing left to lose. He's set on revenge with a pathological aversion to using any form of modern technology for fear the perpetrator will strike again. With his life and reputation destroyed he no longer cares what happens to him. His goal is to kill. But when it comes to it can he do it?  Will he become the criminal that he is supposed to be or do his original values reassert themselves?    

The characters in my novels are very real to me and if they're real to the writer then they will be real to the reader.

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JANUARY 16TH, 2013 @ 7:00:42 GMT


RE: How to create a strong main character

Being an author of a mystery, thriller myself, MURDER ON THE FRONT NINE, I am looking forward to reading your books. Do you ever trade signed books with other authors?


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