Worried Your Fiction Character is Weak? The Truth Behind What a "Strong" Character Is and Isn't
Updated: Apr 10
Hi here! So this blog is geared toward curious readers and aspiring writers. (Probably many of my readers are both. 😉)
So, I'm going to define some terms you may not be familiar with if you're super-new to the indie publishing industry. These are also terms you'll see/hear me talk about on my blog/podcast in the future.
Traditional or "Trad" Publishing
This means going through a publishing company that handles and pays for production of your book. They usually pay for editing, layout, cover art, and sometimes other things like listings, basic promo through their publishing company, and possibly a web page. (It just depends on what their company does and that will be specific to them.) It's important to note that they don't pay for ads or book promotion in general. The author is still expected tot do these things.
If you get in with one of the "big" publishers, or a publisher that has any kind of distribution deal with other companies, or with print or book promotion companies, they can be a great boon to your book. But since the digital revolution, more often than not, getting in with a trad publisher will not ensure sales. You, as the author, are still expected to be the primary salesperson for your book. But with a trad publisher, they're the "middle man" and must be paid for their services, so you make fewer royalties.
Indie or "Self" Publishing:
This means you handle every part of your book publishing yourself. You, the author, are also responsible for the editing, layout, cover art, website and listings, and any and all promotion and/or marketing you want your book to have.
Understand, that doesn't mean you have to do all these things yourself if you don't have the knowledge or skill set to do them. When I say you are responsible for them, I mean fiscally responsible to make them happen. So, more often than not, you'll be hiring professionals to do these things for you (a cover designer, an editor, etc.). And you have to pay for them yourself. But the upside is that all royalties go directly to you, with no middle man to pay. So you have the potential to make a lot more money.
The last term I'll define today is that of a "strong" character. There is especially strong trend today of needing strong female characters. And that's a good thing. I don't in any way disagree with the idea of needing a strong female protagonist in your story. That said, not many people correctly define this term when it comes to story telling.
"Strong" in this case does not have to mean physically strong, emotionally strong, outgoing, over bearing, or any other definition of "strong" people usually apply to physical, emotional or psychological strength.
In the case of story telling, strong simply means that whatever personality traits a character has, they must jump off the page. Even if the character is quiet, shy, introverted, or physically weak, as long as those traits are extremely clear to the reader, you have a "strong" character. Strong, in this context, simply means a trait the character has in abundance.
This goes for all characters. Male, female, heroes, villains, major players and side characters.
So keep this in mind as you form your characters. Whatever traits you give them, make them STRONG!
For more details, including some mainstream examples, give this podcast episode a listen: