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Having trouble writing for the main character

Hey all!

In my novel, the main character is one of the few "sane" people in the world. Writing for the other characters is a breeze; they are crazy and fun and can do whatever they want. In comparison, the main character just feels... normal and not so interesting.

What do you think I can do to make the main character more interesting when he's surrounded by such colorful characters?


What does sanity feels like when all of those surrounding you are allegedly crazy ? Doesn't it feel like you are the pariah, the loner ? To some extent, sanity is relative to a norm, an average - those we consider as looneys are generally mocked, outcasted, or what have you because they're different to the archetype we are used to see in our societies. Hence, in a world filled with crazy people, well our "normality" would be regarded as downright sick, while what we consider to be "insane" would simply be part of daily life. It's a matter of contrast and average...

In this regard, I would definitely write the "sane character" as someone having trouble fitting in this mad world, and feeling isolated due to his inability to comprehend general state of mind and morality.


Does your MC have to stand out in a sea of interesting characters?

There are plenty of rather boring MCs that do not. Sherlock Holmes is a bland character that has Dr. Watson as a conduit who offers personality to the tales. We find Holmes interesting because he is an expert sleuth with an acute attention to detail, but that would be boring if not filtered through the eyes if Watson.

How about Harry Potter? The kid isn't exactly a bundle of quirky character traits and personality. Still, his surrounding pals, allies, and enemies are. Harry acts as a foil to their strangeness in many ways. His normalcy grounds us in their world because it is relatable.

I suggest experimenting with an approach like this. Making the MC normal in a crazy world, can give your reader some footing. If you want to add to the interest, give the MC some rare skill (beyond sanity) or make them a specialized expert. Just one small thing, useful to the story, can make them interesting.

Want more? Elaborate on sympathetic traits, like the MCs love for a sibling who is insane. What effort does it take to care for loved ones in a world full of crazies?


Article Team
An interesting character isn't necessarily one with traits that make them stand out. They are characters who we as readers relate and connect with on a certain level. Convey who the character is, their wants, their fears, their hopes, and make them three dimensional, and the reader will find them interesting.
Sane doesn't necessarily mean bland. Take Elliot Dunkel in El Goonish Shive, a young martial artist with a very restrained personality. (His sister tells him "You're me if I was directed by George Lucas.") He doesn't get many of the punchlines, but he gets all sorts of scenes related to:

* His honest and honorable tendencies, particularly in times where being honorable isn't the safe thing to be

* His tendency to rush into dangerous situations

* His tendency to ignore his own wants and desires to satisfy other people

* His inability to make decisions


Your character doesn't have to be like Elliot, of course. All I'm saying is that you can still attach a lot of personality to a character who isn't bouncing off the walls.
Thanks all!

Because of your responses I've decided that in the end of the novel, the main character will become crazy through his own choosing, because he's envious of the carefree way everyone else lives their lives and he feels left out.