3 Problems With Protagonists

I hate protagonists.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re kind of completely necessary to write a book, and without them we’d have no story- unless, of course, you want to do weird multi-perspective mumbo-jumbo that follow no single storyline. That would be a bad idea, though.

Protagonists are important. But they also commonly fall prey to many terrible predicaments, so here are my top three Protagonist Pet Peeves.

  1. “My name is twenty-two syllables long.” You know the one. The captain of the ship is Jim Smith, the neighbor down the street is Bob Johnson, the lady at the story is Mary Walker, and the protagonist? … Callessandriana De Renconovia. Why can’t Callessandriana dear be the woman behind the library desk, and Mary be the girl who saves the world? Why can’t the lovable main character have a lovable, short, easy-to-remember first name? No. They can’t. Or, if they do, there’s also this twist on the Name Game: Yes, it’s pronounced Mary. No, it’s spelled Maeiryx. The X is silent.
  2. “I AM COMPLETELY NORMAL, I SWEAR.” Oh, yeah. Normal. You have no experience in war- but the second you pick up a gun you acquire Kick-Butt Assassin Skillz, The Inability to Get Injured, and You Never Get The Common Cold Again. Oh, you graduated at the top of your quantitative analysis class and got fourteen separate offers for Ivy League colleges? You poor, average, citizen.
  3. “My stupid nerdy best friend who I have always degraded and overlooked suddenly becomes my boyfriend/girlfriend.” He wears nerd glasses, but she’s a cheerleader. But wait! Brad, the football quarterback, turns out to be a jerk, of all things (I did NOT see that one coming), and suddenly Nerd Boy has an extremely manly shoulder for her to cry on and her eyes are opened and she see the light!! Or vice versa- she’s a computer geek, he’s the suave commander of the Space Protection League, but suddenly his spaceship stops working and there’s only ONE PERSON who can fix it- and when she takes off her glasses to get a closer look, he realizes she’s the epitome of perfection. *insert cartoon kissy noises*

I’m actually starting to feel a little queasy right now, so let’s just stop there.

Please don’t fall prey to these terrible tragedies. Save your protagonist from the gagging noises of my throat and don’t conform to cliché’s of the world.

These are just my top three. What are your top problems with protagonists? Have you run into these problems before?



Add yours →

  1. How about those times when the author and the entire cast of their novel spends the whole book telling you that the protagonist is TEN TIMES more intelligent than everyone else IN THE WORLD but the actual character gives us no reason to believe this is true? Or, similarly, when in order to portray how smart the protagonist, is, the poor author has to make every other character abnormally stupid? These protagonist problems irritate me to an extreme degree. There is also this problem: “I could NEVER be considered pretty because my eyes are too big and my hair is too thick and my waist is too small.” Yeah. That one is just embarrassing.


  2. I completely concur with your 2. and 3. problems, but I must say I have a fondness for weird and lengthy names. Not to say that I don’t appreciate a simply and ordinarily named character as well, and I admit that some authors add in long complicated names just for the heck of it, and that can be annoying. (Cough, cough, Eragon, cough, cough.) But I would be more inclined to read a book about Waldonius Von Waddlenut of Catsbury than Bradley Smith. There are elegantly simple names though, like Han Solo and Oliver Wood. I could talk about names forever.


  3. Names are LIFE, aren’t they?? And you’re totally right- sometimes I like/use ‘weird’ names. One of my character’s is named Deatrix instead of the common Beatrice.


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