Sure, a strong plot is important. But, at the soul of a good story is a hero with a problem, and the more compelling that hero is, the better the story will be. Perfect, two-dimensional protagonists don’t create suspenseful, page-turners. That requires interesting, jump-off-the-page, grab-the-readers-by-the-throat heroes and heroines. The ones you keep thinking about long after you finish the book’s last page.
If you’re looking for some ideas to breathe life into your sleuth, here’s a place to start.
Give your hero skin in the game
Sure, your hero is capable of getting involved in the murder investigation, but why should she? Sometimes, just having a reason to act (i.e it’s her job) isn’t enough. So raise the stakes. The risk of loss is a powerful motivation. The greater and more personal that loss is, the more believable it is when the hero goes to unbelievable measures.
Give your character the capacity to change
Growth is often the heart of a story. It can take a series of plot events and imbue them with depth and meaning, creating a tale worth telling. A developed, believable hero is affected and changed by the experiences, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Either way, she’s not quite the same person she was when the story begun.
Consider giving your hero a secret
Transpicuous, straight-forward characters are predictable, and predictable reads boring. So what if your sleuth is hiding a secret of her own? Let your protagonist be a little cryptic. What if she’s doing something or reacts a certain way that the reader doesn’t understand at first. Your readers will turn the page to learn what that secret is, why she is hiding it and how it will affect the story.
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