June 21st, 2010

if I were me

Beyond my skill level

(Not-so-confidential to this years' Hastings Point Workshoppers...)

I keep getting the critique that my main character, Dru, (in Prince(ss)) is a little bit boring. Funny--but kinda boring anyway.

Here are the notes I wrote up about Dru before I started the book:

Hero) Dru (Drustan). Prince of Serilda. A "coaster." Does well with his tutors to avoid getting into trouble, but kind of boring. Desires to please everyone, to make everyone calm and happy. He wants to appease and gratify the whole world. At every turn, this motive should be doubted. He will go through with this stupid idea of his mother's and lie to her to keep her happy. He must learn that lying to keep people happy is a cheater's way. He doesn't want to be King because being King is a hard job, and he doesn't want to decide the path of the whole kingdom. He will eventually bring about the end of the monarchy and set forth a constitution with an electoral government. It will not be the easy path, however, nor the cheater's way.

Oh, yeah. I meant to do that. Make him boring, I mean.

Now, what I wonder is: how do you make a boring character interesting?

I tried to solve this by making the other characters as interesting as possible, and the situation, dialogue, etc. interesting, fast-paced, well-drawn.

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The critiquers who've seen the book (all or in part) do seem to feel that the rest makes up for the boring main character, but I wonder.

I also sort of wonder: how would you make a boring dude interesting for the purposes of fiction? And I don't mean, "Make him interesting." I mean, take a boring person and actually make it fascinating, to wonder what's going to happen next?

I may very well be writing beyond my skill level, in this.