I Like My Secondary Character Better Than I Like My Protagonist

Yeah. I’ve been neglecting my story, so I’ve gotten behind, and I’m still working on chapter 10. If you remember from Introducing New Characters Partway Through A Story, chapter 10 switches the perspective from the protagonist to the crown prince, to describe events taking place in a different part of the kingdom. It’s an essential part of the story, and I’m having a lot of fun writing it.

The problem is, I like writing about Prince Tynan better than I like writing about Callum. It may be that after 9 chapters I’m a little tired of Callum. It may be that Callum is a little whiny and sometimes stupid and I’m thinking about going back and rewriting him a little to make him more likeable. It may that I like Prince Tynan’s storyline better than I like Callum’s storyline. Whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a bit hard to revert back to writing about Callum.

I never intended to have much to do with the prince. As I’ve refined my plot his role has grown, and I intend for him to be important to the resolution, but I still don’t want him taking up a lot of space in this story. Partly because I don’t want to get into writing about the kingdom as a whole or castle politics. But mostly because this is Callum’s story. He’s the one who needs to learn and grow and ultimately save the day.

I like Prince Tynan because he’s smart, well-educated (they’re not the same thing), and family oriented. He listens to wise counsel and makes good decisions. He’s concerned about the future of his kingdom and is taking seriously the role he’s assigned to play. But as much as I like him, I need him to stay somewhat in the background right now. I’m semi-considering another story in which he can feature. At the end of this one, Prince Tynan lives, and will be needed to help pick up the pieces of the conflict. Maybe I can write a sequel just for him, and give him his own story. I have a half-formed idea of what that could be, but I’m trying not to dwell on it. One story at a time.

As for Callum, I need to work on liking him more. The re-write should help. Moving faster will help. I know from experience that the longer I stall on a story, the less desire I have to finish it. I just want to move on to something fresh and exciting. Getting back into his story and out of chapter 10 should help.

Talk to me in the comments. Have you ever felt more drawn to a secondary character than your protagonist?

2 Replies to “I Like My Secondary Character Better Than I Like My Protagonist”

  1. Totally been there before and I’m sure I will again. I’ve written a hundred short stories, and even a few longer ones, where I started, got pages into the project, then puttered out for one reason or the other. I didn’t like my character enough. Or I didn’t know where to take the story. Or, the original idea that spasmed in my head some saturday morning at 3am no longer appealed to me.

    What changed my perspective, after years of waffling in my starting-and-stopping approach, was actually completing an outline. It’s the first time I’ve done it, and I’ve enjoyed the results. I have so much excitement for what comes next. Sure, I’m sure pieces, small and large, will change and many things already have. But knowing what’s in store for my protagonist helps me stay present in what is happening. And keeps me excited for the next page I’ll write.

    Having an outline is like finding out one of your close friends haven’t seen one of your favorite movies. “For real, you haven’t seen this? Well, I know what we’re doing tonight!” And then you watch it together and you just know what is going to happen and keep watching their face for those moments you treasure. Yeah. It’s like that.

    1. I’ve never thought of an outline like that. I don’t have one, but There’s a basic one in my head. I also know how the story is going to end, and I think that’s why I might be struggling with Callum a bit. I like where Prince Tynan ends better than I like where Callum ends.

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