Developing a Main Character

cropped-untitled2.png The question that most authors are asked is usually a variation on, “Who is your main character based on?”  When this question is asked, the interviewer is usually trying to see if the author is egotistic enough to say, “Why, me, of course.”  They seem to be disappointed when the author doesn’t answer the question the way that they wanted to hear. This is a way for the interviewer to show how egocentric authors tend to be.  I, however, can state categorically that Detective James Gladd is not based on me.  In fact, the only similarities are minor: My middle name is James and if I had a pet parrot, I would name him/her Sasha.

I really can’t say how Detective Gladd was created.  I just started writing the character with a vague sense of who he is as a person.  His speech patterns developed as I wrote the book.  I suppose that some of the characteristics come from what I imagine a detective would look or be like; I gave him a pet parrot because I like parrots and I thought that a parrot would give him something that other detective characters don’t have in the way of pets.  I made him a brunet, 6 foot tall, a divorced man, and an ex-alcoholic since these traits are what we expect detectives to look like.  I wanted to give him a slight sense of eccentricity in order to prepare the reader for another character who would heighten the eccentric factor, Alex Dali.  When these two characters meet, Gladd is not judgmental of Dali’s love of disguises; thus, we have the contrast between the main character who symbolizes logic and a character who symbolizes open-mindedness.

With this said, I suppose every author approaches the development of their main characters in different ways.  Whether the author is successful or not in creating a sympathetic main character is up to the minds of the readers.


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