Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our MC’s Mental and Emotional Quotient Decoded

When we create our Protagonists, I am sure we all pay attention to every aspect of their personality and life. The literary journey they undertake  is planned and plotted in detail.

We have a clear picture or a visual image of our Main Character’s physical appearance. While working on my current WIP, I pondered over  my MC’s (a young girl)  Mental and Emotional Quotient to get a clearer picture of her personality.

 Here are a few guidelines that help us  in creating the Emotional Quotient of our MC’s :

  1. Is our MC an introvert, extrovert or  an ambivert. Do these traits become her asset or work to her disadvantage? Is our MC a loner,  or, a people’s person? 
  1. Do our MC’s have  concrete goals in their lives, or are they drifters, floating aimlessly wherever life takes them? 
  1. Is our MC prone to emotional mood swings, or is he/she an emotionally balanced and stable person. Do these emotional see-saws affect her relationship  with people and make her commit  mistakes? 
  1. Is he or she prone to anxiety/worries/stress, or are they confident of  their abilities to get out of tight spots and tricky situations? 
  1. Is the MC’s mentality that of  a spendthrift, a  stingy person, secretive, or a hoarder? 
  1. How is the MC’s behaviour towards  people: disdainful, respectful, tolerant. Is he/she the type who just cannot be bothered about people, as they feel most people are just  a waste of their time. 
  1. Is the MC a snob, who considers most of humanity  below her/his dignity, or is the MC a humble kind, eager to please. 
  1. Is the MC aggressive or assertive? By assertive I always stress that we stand up for ourselves, voice our anger over injustice and indignities. Aggression is resorting to Bullying Tactics. 
  1. Is the MC someone who forgives easily  or are they the kind who hold grudges  and need to settle scores. 
  1. Is the MC the type who takes herself/himself  and life seriously, or are they the chilled out type; the happy go lucky. 
  1. Is the MC the God fearing type, or an atheist? Does this trait affect her behaviour and influence her judgements and reactions to situations? 
  1. Is the MC a dominating type, or submissive, or in between? 
  1.  Does the MC belong to the species who are quick to jump to conclusions, or does he or she believe in giving  people a benefit of doubt? Is the MC judgemental? 
  1. Is  our MC a selfless human, or do they believe in  plain self-interest over everything else? Is the MC a people user? 
  1. Is our MC a Snob, or is he/ she a modest  person? 
 What kind of an MC have you created? How do you work on the Mental and Emotional Quotient of your MC’s. Any pointers that you all would like to share with us?

Picture Credit and Copyright Melissa Crytzer Fry


  1. What a helpful post, Rachna. I just love it. It will help me shape my characters. Thanks, will bookmark it.

  2. This is definitely a thorough checklist. Thanks for the information. And I hope you're having a good week so far!

    I've posted a thank you to you on my post that's six days old now. Got to put up a new one soon.
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

  3. Great questions for character development. I don't think you can delve too deeply into all the aspects of your Protagonist. Everything matters, even if you never refer to it directly, you just know how they'll respond to an episode or another character.

    One thing I do in the first stages of character development is find an astrological sign that is close to how I see the character and work off that.

  4. Character development is one area agents say unpublished writers get wrong. They don't flesh out their characters. Our characters should make human mistakes as well as have great qualities.

    Always good to interview all your characters before writing the book.

    Thanks for the post, Rachna.

  5. Great post my friend!
    This is very similar to how I break down my MC's character. It is vital to know your characters but especially your MC. A powerful story comes through the viewpoint of characters that can invoke sympathy and emotion in you, first as a writer, and the reader. It is our characters that breathe life into a story and make it live, dance, laugh and cry.

  6. Great post. I am interested in the idea that humans are complex with many contradictions. When I allowed my selfish bitch MC the luxury of liking to knit I was told it was out of character, though I knew of such a person! :O)

  7. In the past I have just let the characters tell me who they are, but recently I have been using Randy Ingerman's Snowflake method to plan. While his questions are broader it has really made me think about who the characters are. When I was having problems with my current MC I snowflaked her and so far so good.

  8. Great post Rachna. I tried to think of these things when I created my MC but your list is brilliantly thorough!

  9. I'm not so analytical when it comes to developing my characters, but this list is fantastic and will certainly help the process.

  10. Great list of questions to ask ourselves concerning our characters--I'm filing them away for use as I develop my next book :-) Thanks, Rachna. Good post!

  11. This is a great guide. I'm in the midst of revisiting my character sketches and it will be helpful to use as I go through them. Great post!

  12. I'm learning everyday that there is so much I need to know about a character before I even put fingers to keyboard. This is one of the main ingredients to writing a good book, knowing our characters in such a way that there can be no doubt in the reader's mind that they are reading about a real individual.

  13. Wow, great list and details! What I do is imagine how the person would feel if he lost his parents at an early age because he had set the house on fire by playing with matches. He'd be hateful, bitter, resentful, protective of his brother. But what would happen if his brother died on him? He'd totally lose himself. I've written a novel based on this. I hope it sounds logical!


  14. Great checklist. I have to confess I'm not as analytical when I shape my characters. I generally look back to events that have shaped them and a couple of key personality traits they have, and then I start wondering how the other characters see them. But I like this list and may start examining MCs more closely in the. Keep these pithy posts coming, Rachna!

  15. Great Post Rachna!
    I find myself building many of the above into the character and personalit of the MC, but it is important to have a conscious awareness of it. Helps with interaction and/conflict with other characters.
    xx Tee

  16. Great post! Loved everybody's comments!!! Creating balance in a character can be tricky- I might think she's great, to others she may be a pain in the neck or too perfect- That's where a trusted partner could be of assistance!
    You always get me thinking!

  17. Oh, my. I've never thought about my MC in that much detail before. Another bookmarked post to go through later!

    Ellie Garratt

  18. Great list! This certainly will help create well rounded characters. Thanks for the breakdown.
    Have a great weekend,

  19. You are amazing to have decoded al of this! It's so hard to make out problem laden MC's not come across as whiny and self-indulgent. IN fact those were some of the harsh crits I received on my new book. It's a shark tank out there. We really need to know our craft.

  20. Wow this is such a great list to consider when creating a main character. I do character worksheets, and these issues definitely come through.

  21. I like to sum up my characters attitude towards life in one sentence. It shows me what they're really all about.

    And I like to figure out what event in their life gave them that attitude. What happened to them that taught them the most about life.


  22. This is a really good set of questions to consider--lots of value to really understanding what motivates our protagonist, and what their core values are!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse