Creating a lovable lead: Sunday ROW80 check-in

In every book I’ve ever loved is a main character I would follow to hell and back. I’d follow Frodo into the fires of Mount Doom. I’d follow Harry Potter into battle with Voldemort. I’d follow Elizabeth Bennet as she rejects and falls in love with Mr. Darcy. Creating a lovable lead is one of the most important things we can do for our story. It’s part of James Scott Bell’s LOCK formula for writing: a lead readers will want to follow.

I’m thinking about this because I’ve been struggling with my current WIP, putting words on the page but having trouble really digging into this story. Every day when I showed up at the page, a part of me was reluctant. Finally, I did what I should’ve done from the beginning. I stepped back and asked myself why I was so resistant. It didn’t take long for the answer to come to me. I didn’t love my main character. She came off as flaky when I meant her to be fearless; she came off as self-absorbed when I meant her to be open-minded and life-embracing. In short, I needed to do some character work.

So I stopped and re-envisioned her character. I realized she had the potential to be a little like Merida from “Brave,” clever and fearless and charging ahead with confidence, protective of those she loves but ready for adventure.

This story still has a long way to go. I thought it would be finished at 13K, but it’s going to be much longer. I still need to spend some time doing character work, but I now know that I’m on the right track.

Have you ever struggled with a main character? How did you resolve the issue?

ROW80 check-in…


1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 5,132 words in “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. Continued reading “Write. Publish. Repeat.” by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Goal met.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Goal met.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland sprite. Debut release TANGLED ROOTS now available. Magic awaits at

12 thoughts on “Creating a lovable lead: Sunday ROW80 check-in

  1. I have a lot of character work to do, as well. I don’t have separate voices for them all, yet, and that’s not a good thing. I’m setting myself some mini-goals of writing up a bio for each character, in their own voice, so that they’ll get more depth.
    I love your goals, and it’s fantastic that you’re doing so well with them!

    1. James Scott Bell recommends creating a character voice journal where you write for 10-20 minute stretches in a character’s voice–just stream of consciousness. I did that for my novella and it helped so much with deepening that story. I also find character bios helpful. I like your idea of writing them in each character’s voice.

      Thanks, Tammy! Have a wonderful week!

  2. I had that problem with one of my earlier books–my main character just wasn’t much of a draw, because his life was too perfect. So I made him suffer a great loss a couple years before the story began–one he hadn’t yet comes to terms with–and boom! Problem solved. Good luck with yours!

    1. That’s a good solution. I realized I needed a better reason for my character to stay in the faerie realm, where there are plenty of dangers. Just because she wanted to explore wasn’t good enough. After reading one of Jami Gold’s posts, I realized that the story reads a lot better if she’s trapped in the fae world. Slowly, I’m unraveling this story.


  3. Good for you Denise! That isn’t easy sometimes to critique your own work. So amazing that you could take a step back and see where the flaws were and what was missing. Don’t you just love Jami? She really has some of the best posts for writers. And great solutions too. I have no doubt that you will pull this off. Your character will thank you. 🙂

    1. I knew if I wasn’t loving the story while I was writing it, something was off. I’m still feeling my way through this story. Yes, Jami’s posts are great–incredibly helpful, inspiring posts for writers.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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