Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Protag No-Nos

(This is Lynn's Monday Ten post for this week -Tom)

Ten Things I Hate About Your Protagonist

1. Abracadabra Erection Dude: Whenever your protag comes within the line of sight of the love interest, he raises a pole in his pants. Every time. So is this guy mainlining Cialis, or what? Also, the tenting-the-pants reference? Boring now. Please think up another boner euphemism.

2. Freckle Sprinkle Girl: For some reason the freckled protag only has a cute little collection of maybe six freckles on her nose. Real women with freckles generally have them all over: on the shoulders, chest, thighs, keister, everywhere. Personally the only place on my body that isn't freckled are the palms of my hands and the bottoms of my feet. Do the freckles right or lose them.

3. Inexplicably Stumped PI: The mystery PI protag who cannot figure out whodunit until the last page of the book when I got it by page 50? Kill him or her and make someone else the protag. Or I will in my next novel.

4. Love Scene Interruptus: If your protag has more than two love scenes interrupted before mutual cookies are had, he or she is pissing off your reader. Have them do what everyone who gets interrupted does: unplug the phones, lock the doors, turn off the cell phones, pagers and whatnot, put Rover in his kennel, leave the shotgun on the nightstand and keep a can of mace within reach.

5. Needle Teeth: If your vampire protag leaves "pinprick" holes in his blood donor's flesh, it means he or she has needle-thin teeth. Which makes him or her a pinhead. If you're writing vamp fiction but have never personally bitten anyone, take a standard #2 pencil and stab a piece of styrofoam. See the hole it leaves? That's about the size of a standard vamp bite wound. Double it and you've got the bite mark. And repeat after me: Puncture wounds are not pinprick-size unless THEY ARE MADE WITH A PIN.

6. Oncoming Betrayal Headlights: When to rethink the simplicity of your plot and your protag's brain: 1) if the protag cannot see the Major Screw-Over coming at them at warp ten until the anti-matter reactor blows, 2) it involves the protag's love interest and the protag's best friend having wild monkey sex on the protag's bed, desk, sofa or car backseat, or 3) your beta reader spends three chapters muttering, "Come ON, dumbass, wake UP."

7. Supermodel Family Girls: It's been my experience that stunningly beautiful women are devoted to their mirrors, their hairdressers, their mirrors, their botox treatments, their fasting regimes, their mirrors, and their mirrors. If your Heidi Klum-Klone protag was a real woman, she'd be too busy getting parts of herself waxed to have time to spend the afternoon with Stroke-Afflicted Mom at the Disneyworld version of a nursing home.

8. Too Sexy for His Shirt: If your protag spends more than half the novel wearing only cut-offs or pants, you are naked chest-obsessed and he's probably freezing. Put some clothes on him for God's sake.

9. Unconvincing Flaws: Forgetting to water the plants, giggling and dropping things are not character flaws. They're what my twelve year old does when she's not watching Animal Planet or playing The Sims. Give me the real deal.

10. Wolverine Wounds: (Majorie can skip this one) When your human protag is significantly wounded, and does not receive professional medical treatment, they should feel some pain, ooze, groan, experience weakness and dizziness, pass out or at least need to go lie down for a while. This is not the time they should take on the Evil Overlord and his minions, have a sex marathon with the love interest, climb a mountain, duel, run laps, work out, or all of the above. If the wound is open and they do all that stuff they will BLEED TO DEATH.


  1. Oh wow, this really hits the spot this morning. So funny.

  2. Not that you care or that it matters but I actually have a freckle on my left palm. One, lone little freckle. Otherwise, they're freakin' everywhere!!

    Even more interesting, my son recently visited the eye doctor for the first time. He's apparently one very rare. He has a freckle in the iris of his right eye. I've got a pic from the doctor and everything. So, I quite agree with you, freckles are not limited to a light sprinkle on the nose!

  3. ROFL at #4! Is the shotgun just in case he tries to stop when she's almost there?

  4. Too funny!
    Particularly number 10... can we send that one to the people who write action movie scripts too?

  5. Anonymous2:10 PM

    An exception to #8 can be made if the character does in fact live in the tropics, especially if he earns his living diving, wrestling alligators, or cutting sugar cane. But if he's over 40 and northern European, he'd better have either melanoma or lots of sunscreen.

  6. Anonymous3:42 PM

    My older brother has freckles on his nose.

    JUST his nose, well, I've never checked out his body or anything but we did grow up in the same house and I don't remember ever seeing them elsewhere

  7. Anonymous4:18 PM

    Great post.

    The sprinkling/smattering of nose freckles is overdone (along with "mop of curls"), I agree, but I have known a number of people with just a few freckles.

  8. Too funny and true! I always wondered about number, are you sure that the hanky panky should be your priority when your spleen's hanging out? No. I think not. If it's not fixed, it means no hanky panky PERIOD. EVER.

  9. Anonymous1:46 AM

    No tent-pole pants? Oh. Well... I suppose bulges are out, too, being a similar cliche.

    Suggestions? Anyone? Hello?

    eqebif? Sounds like a Mancurian fist fight (for those who remember The Goodies and Ecky-Thump...

    Jaye Patrick (since the posting bit has gone squirrelly.)

  10. Love #1, lol!

    Going right to work on that boner assignment...

  11. Haha... Wolverine Wounds...

    Reminds me of the movie "Total Recall" when Arnie and his love interest are ejected on to the surface of Mars and experience total decompression for a few minutes before the uber-oxygen maker gives them an atmosphere.

    What's the first thing they do? Make out of course.

    I think the mind-numbing pain of having every capillary under the skin ruptured would prevent all the kissing. :)

  12. Oh yes!
    I hate those artificial, silly, so-called character flaws.
    And the silly neuroses that become major plot points.

  13. Anonymous8:48 AM

    Sprinkle Freckle Girl? Yeah, I knew her in college. Six adorable little freckles across her nose. Peaches-and-cream complexion. Silky hair to her shoulders. A happy smile on her face. I'd see her every morning in the dorm elevator. I hated her.

    Karen, the lurker

  14. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Raiders of the Lost Ark has an excellent scene poking fun at number 10. Indiana Jones has fought off all creation and is hurting all over, and there is nearly a love scene, but then he falls asleep from exhaustion. Do you remember that scene?

  15. LOL Been there, read that.

  16. Anonymous5:58 PM

    Very nice list! I can't stand any of the types of protags you've just mentioned. Although I'm not sure I've ever come across number 1...not sure I'd want to

    I'm very glad I found this site!


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