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How to Write an Unattractive Protagonist by HennaLucas How to Write an Unattractive Protagonist by HennaLucas

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Just a little how-to writing tip, as I see a lot of people having trouble with this with fiction. 

Other tutorials:

How to Write Dialogue by HennaLucas


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:iconprincesswanderer:
princesswanderer Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2015  Student Writer
after looking through your art Sara used to be drawn as a genuine babe and is now fairly unattractive to western standards. She is much more human. :) 
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2015  Student Writer
Ah glad you noticed that I actually did it on purpose! I have a lot of followers that are like "umm not to be rude, but Sara looks manly here : / " and I'm like yes. yes she is supposed to be androgynous and harsh-featured thanks for telling me
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:iconprincesswanderer:
princesswanderer Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2015  Student Writer
Yeah, there is one deviation where you scorn yourself for making her so pretty. there a recent picture where she is smiling and she still is lovely when she smiles.
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:iconanurmy:
AnUrmy Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2014
Briefly coming back on dA to comment on this! Henna, your explanations and examples are incredibly helpful. As always, you're inspiring me to write! 
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:iconwelcometothenewage:
WelcomeTotheNewAge Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
This is brilliant. I love the use of Eleanor & Park as an example.
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:icontoxic-innocence:
Toxic-Innocence Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014
Your descriptions are fabulous! 
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:iconinpbo:
InPBo Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014  Student General Artist
PERFECT and it helps a lot ^^ as the dialogue tutoria too ^^ thank you very much
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:iconluzcorti:
LuzCorti Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is perfect :heart: :thanks:
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:iconguineveretogwen:
GuinevereToGwen Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Student Writer
What a great article! (It's been in my favourites for awhile, I just hadn't had the time to read it yet.) It's so funny: the entire time I was reading this, I kept thinking about Eleanor & Park. Rainbow Rowell really did do it so well. She's one of my favourite authors, one of the reasons being the way she portrayed Eleanor in her novel. It was so well done.

I absolutely agree with everything you said here. I'm always running into this trope and rolling my eyes at it; apparently, these authors have never been to high school. Or they're trying to relive their miserable high school years in a way that will glorify them/their character. I think that's the way many people write: they write what they wish they had done, how they wish things could have been. I do it all the time, too. It's not a bad thing, it's just that we have to be careful not to fall into cliches or make it completely unrealistic.

I really liked your two descriptions of Sara. Perfectly executed. All in all, wonderful article!
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Student Writer
Yes, she really is a lovely writer!
And thank you! 
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:iconguineveretogwen:
GuinevereToGwen Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Student Writer
You're welcome! :)
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:iconwire4k:
WiRE4k Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
That's a very good article. I can tell that it helped me understand something that I, as a newbie writer, can't yet describe. Thank you for that.

What do you thing about using non-neutral description of a character depending on the point of you? In a novel I'm planning currently, there are independent points of view depending on whether a certain character (a guy; his best friend, a girl; and another girl, new to their school and city): if the guy is there, then I describe everything from his PoV; if he's not and the friend is there, I use hers; and if only the new girl is there, I write from her PoV. Their PoVs are, of course, different (the guy and the friend are like brother and sister, they grew up together from their 3 years of age, so they are bound to share some tastes), so their description of other charaters should be different.
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:iconnuman1984:
Numan1984 Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014
I read all of it and I can see why this is top searched work of literature in DeviantArt.
At first I thought it was going to be about unattractive "male" protagonists, but I was so wrong. 
I do agree that the "love at first sight" cliche is kind of over-used and romance stories seem unrealistic sometimes.
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:iconm-gray-m:
M-Gray-M Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Both of the writing tips that you've posted are so, so, so extremely helpful, and I'll be sure to keep them in mind in the future! Thank you for posting them oh my goodness.
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Student Writer
Of course! Thank you!
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:iconclockworkactivates:
ClockWorkActivates Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This is extremely helpful! Thank you for posting this!
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Student Writer
No prob!
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:iconancestralart-de-lys:
Ancestralart-de-Lys Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That's why I only write about extraordinary boys. 
Thanks for this, it was very informative.
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:iconambsi:
Ambsi Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014
Excellent example of show don't tell. I read this advice often but not many bother to provide examples :p
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Student Writer
Glad it was helpful!
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:iconkakera-art:
Kakera-Art Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Quite useful, well I don't write much (as I am somewhat a really bad writer XD) those are things I keep in mind with my stories, I try to be realistic, even if it can be hard sometimes as it is much easier to make thos clichés you explained.

Thank you for this ! It was interesting !
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Student Writer
Thanks!
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:iconmrraccoonguy1224:
MrRaccoonGuy1224 Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
unattractive protagonist: justin biebe
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:icondragoeniex:
dragoeniex Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014
Once, I read a book with a female protagonist who had a penchant for sweets. She mentioned that she had some extra weight because of it, and I was kind of pleased. Nice personality, not-supermodel looks. Yay!

And then we got a chapter from the lead male's pov describing her as having "curves in all the right places." I just...

Eating cookies does not make your bust significantly larger, nor keep other areas proportionately "small." >_< Whyyyyyyyy? That's to say nothing of another book's female protagonist who was kind of thin and had like no bust. Everyone acknowledged /she/ was unconventional, but half the male cast that got lines (and some who didn't) wanted or tried to rape her.

*headdesk* *headdesk*
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:icondevinital:
Devinital Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks for writing this. I've been struggling with writing a female character of mine, attempting to finding a balance of normal insecure girl with average looks but avoiding the "mary sue" cliche. I think this certainly helps and hopefully I can now start taking steps towards writing a interesting but relatable character.
Best of luck with writing Sara. :>
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:iconazaleajones:
AzaleaJones Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Excellent advice complete with examples.
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:iconlexi247:
Lexi247 Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014
:clap:
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:iconactivoid:
Activoid Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Filmographer
People seem to have trouble writing good female characters in general. I'll be honest, very rarely do I see a female character in the main cast (and pretty much never a good character when a protagonist) that is interesting or worth liking. But maybe that's just me. >_>
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
Well perhaps you should read my book! Haha, I personally am very happy with how my protagonist turned out.
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:iconactivoid:
Activoid Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Student Filmographer
I'll check it out, even though I do more screenplays than novel or short story work, some of the ideas cross over. :)
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:iconthe-pacific-panther:
The-Pacific-Panther Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014
Thank you for this! Nice helpful reminder and great advice, I appreciate it a lot. :)
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
Gratzi!
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:iconplutopoltergeist:
PlutoPoltergeist Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I don't think I really needed to read this, but it was very interesting nevertheless. :) One thing that stands out is how different synonyms for 'skinny' come across differently. I hadn't thought about it before.
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:iconalchemical:
Alchemical Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014
I kind of mentally shuddered when her hair was described as "acrid". I guess marking your heroine as stinky is a good way to get across that she's no princess in disguise.  XD
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
Haha I mostly just used acrid to bring across the mental image of the "oil spill" hair: she's actually not stinky :XD:
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:iconlilly-angeloflife:
Lilly-AngelofLife Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student General Artist
This is very helpful. Thank you! :D
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
no prob :)
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:iconrockinthisworld:
rockinthisworld Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Interesting article. I'll keep this advice (particularly the bit about positive and negative connotations) in mind when describing characters in the future. :)

'Would she popular, hit on by guys and adored by her entire student body?' I believe there is a 'be' missing in this sentence.
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
Good to know :) And that's debatable; I try to leave out as many extraneous words as possible 
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:iconrockinthisworld:
rockinthisworld Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2014  Student Digital Artist
...I'm afraid I don't understand. The sentence needs a verb. Popular is not a verb. How is that debatable?
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:iconsioux-music-addict:
sioux-music-addict Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014
the only thing i could think of while reading this was the twilight series

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:iconshadow-hunter-is-in:
Shadow-Hunter-Is-In Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student General Artist
LOL.  xD
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:iconrowanthefierce:
RowantheFierce Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
Really well said! :D

I have one question: you use the word wiry as a negative adj. but for some reason it comes across as more neutral leading into negative. Would you say it's all the way negative or border-balancing?
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
It could be borderline negative; idk, I usually use it as somewhat negative when describing my characters, though it's not as negative as scrawny.
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:iconrainsdance:
rainsdance Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014
In some situations it can be mildly positive as well when describing someone as having a "wiry strength" which I personally think means they have well defined, ropy muscles and tendons. This is actually particularly common among martial artists and acrobats and the like who have strong, well-defined muscles without the bulk that would get in the way and obstruct the movement necessary for their occupation.
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:iconrowanthefierce:
RowantheFierce Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
Good point. Scrawny is much more negative than wiry. 
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:iconsupereilonwypevensie:
supereilonwypevensie Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student
These are really great tips and I'm glad you shared them! I could really use these in reference to a fanfiction I'm writing since the protagonist is supposed to be kind of plain and wa wallflower, and I'm happy to find that throughout my story I used a number of these tips before even reading these, like including descriptions her being bullied and trying to use words with negative connotations to get across her plainness/unhappiness with her appearance. Either way, I'm very glad you shared this advice and I'll definitely be referring to this in the future! :)
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
aw, glad to hear that!
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:iconkeddwar:
Keddwar Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014
Somebody get Stephanie Meyers! She needs to see this!
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:iconhennalucas:
HennaLucas Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2014  Student Writer
:XD:
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