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9 Questions to Test Your Protagonist

Recently, my beta partner finished edits on the first novel of my series. While thisopened a doorway to an entirely new phase of the writing process with which I have been heretofore inexperienced (and more on that to come in later blogs!), the most daunting thing about this, for me, was always the impending Character Analysis for the protagonist, Cistine.

Derived from Janice Hardy’s book Revising Your Novel (which also contains questions regarding the antagonist, something I’ll share in a later post), the nine-question analysis was something my beta and I had discussed early on in our partnership: once she finished the read-through, she would fill out a character analysis questionnaire to help me navigate the pitfalls and weaknesses in my MC’s characterization. Even though I was prepared for it to happen, the prospect totally unnerved me, because I’ve had a tendency in the past to find major flaws on both the macro and micro levels with my MCs – flaws that I had no clue how to fix.

What pleasantly surprised me was how helpful these questions were! Especially having someone else answer them – and point out the flaws – because it gave me fresh perspective on how to maneuver those gaps in Cistine’s characterization, to mend the holes so that she became as realistic as possible.

Because these questions were so unbelievably helpful, I wanted to share them in this week’s post! If you’re part of a beta-team, I highly encourage you to share these questions with your partner/group. If you’re a writer who prefers to go solo for the editing process, these questions can still be extremely helpful to answer yourself, as they encourage the writer or reader to lay out details of the protagonist’s arcs and inner mechanics, motivations, flaws, goals and challenges, etc.

Credit to Janice Hardy’s Revising Your Novel for supplying these questions, and to my wonderful beta Athaia for introducing me to them (and for going through the process with me)!

  1. Does the Protagonist have a Problem?

  2. Does the Protagonist have the Ability to Act?

  3. Does the Protagonist have Reasons to Act?

  4. Does the Protagonist have Something to Lose?

  5. Does the Protagonist have Something to Gain?

  6. Does the Protagonist have the Capacity to Change?

  7. Does the Protagonist have a Compelling Quality?

  8. Does the Protagonist have an Interesting Flaw?

  9. Does the Protagonist have an Interesting Opponent or Obstacle?


Do you guys have any amazing revision resources that help smooth out the daunting process? Share them in the comments below!

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