In most novels it is the protagonist that drives the narrative. Confronted with difficulties and problems to over come, our protagonist is thrown in to conflict either internal or external which the author resolves either at the end of the novel or the series (well mostly anyway). But it is the character of our protagonists as much as the narrative drive that keeps our readers, turning the pages to the end of the book, or the last book in the series. Since It has become popular to banish the hero or heroine at the centre of the novel to replace them with an anti-hero figure of some shape or form, I’ve used the term protagonist here. Although I still believe in heroes, but more about that in another blog coming soon.
Regardless of whether our protagonist is a hero or anti hero there must be a connection between them and the reader if the novel has any hope of being successful. I can’t count the number of times other readers have said to me that they either could not finish or struggled to finish a book because they found the characterisation of the protagonist and/or the minor characters poorly drawn, lacked depth or that the motivation of the character was never fully developed. So, I have come up with a cunning plan to increase not only the profile of my novel, but also to allow readers to become familiarised with the characters in my book Beyond the Mist.
My plan is simple, each character will be given at least two or three blog post to explore their character. It may be in the form of a sub story to the main thread of Beyond the Mist‘s narrative, or a short story that gives the character a bit of back history. It may be in the form of a character profile or one scene involving at least one or more of the characters interacting that gives more familiarity and exposure of who they are. As my readers become more familiar with them I hope they will become intrigued with them and be drawn into wanting to know more about them. Your characters should be three dimensional, with all the mass of contradictions and complications of character that we all have. In short, I want my readers to always believe that they ‘know’ the protagonists of my books intimately and therefore feel some compassion and interest in what happens to them in the novel.
But writers beware! There can be some complications to this approach. Once work is posted in a blog it can be considered by some to be ‘published’ therefore to avoid any complications I plan to only use my characters and their story in a way that enhances them in the readers mind but does not use actual text from the book, avoiding any claims of the work already being published online. And what about over- exposure could you turn your potential audience off by over exposing them to the characters and ‘world’ that you have created by releasing too much material pre -launch of the the actual novel?
My feeling is that you can not over expose you audience to your novel, remember what you are creating is something original and unique so your audience is getting some bang for their bucks. In exchange for their time you are giving them free, excellently written, accessible writing that just happens to be promoting your book. The thing is, this is not the hard sell, it is not the pleading, screaming ‘BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK’, you are giving your audience something for investing thier time in your work. That is one of the great secrets, always give your readers and the community something rather than simply taking and demanding from them all the time. Call it a marketing activity, call it advertising, hell you can call it promotion if you want, but the truth of the matter is what you are doing is building a relationship with people. People who may well be interested in investing back in you if you build a good social relationship with them.
As long as what you are giving people is original, high quality writing that makes them feel they have gained value from their time reading about your protagonist and the secondary characters on your blog, then you have taken one more step to adding value to your brand. Don’t forget, you are a brand and writing is a job. As much as I love writing, I know that I am competing in a market place overcrowded with not only other début authors but with established writers and I need to stay memorable, stay connected and familiarise my audience like mad with my hero and heroine/protagonist.
So if you are a writer why not use your blog or social media of choice to get creative. If you are working on a novel, take one evening to write a chapter that gives a little background to the main narrative of your novel. You can create an entire back story that wouldn’t fit into your book, or you can write scenes between and containing your protagonist, that gives your audience a peek view into a side, aspect or event that enhances the book you are writing.
What ever happens, as long as you are giving your audience something worthwhile in return for their time and effort, there is no such thing as over exposing the hero or heroine of your book.
Keep writing, get creative and enjoy!!