Are Your Characters Indispensable?

Before you say anything, yes, I love to blog about characters. I am one of those people who write character-driven stories. Disclaimer over.

I am reading the book Linchpin by Seth Godin. The book asks its readers to make themselves indispensable, to truly make a difference in their professional lives that only they can make. I started applying this to my book and got an interesting question:

Are my characters linchpins, people that cannot be replaced and make the story their own? Or are they cogs, beings that do “just enough” but can easily be replaced by any other random character?

If you look at the “BLAQUE” page on this blog, you will see the plot summary. An American gets plucked from her country in a strange mix-up and ends up part of a huge international spy  mission. I started thinking. Couldn’t Mysty be replaced by any other American with even half of a personality? She is witty, cute, and funny, but so are a bunch of other Americans. Why was she picked? I suddenly realized that if I couldn’t answer these questions, my main character was doomed to be a cardboard cutout.

This forced me to brainstorm, and what emerged within one 30 minute bus ride this afternoon changed the entire story. I’m not going to give it away, of course, but I will say that it made me VERY excited. Mysty suddenly became a crucial character to the entire plot.

Look over your main characters. Are they dynamic linchpins, characters that can stand on their own and make a serious contribution to the story just because of who they are? Would the story suffer or lose some of its emotional impact if you removed one of them? Could they even carry their own story? If not, what can you add or change to make them amazing people that readers will not forget and want to know?

I want to know about one of your linchpin characters, either one of your own creations or a memorable character from a piece you have read. What made them stand out to you? I will go first:

Kind Eyes from BLAQUE. He is the youngest spy, and very child-like. His horrific past shaped him into an obedient but unstable young man. He is a trained killer, but is very protective (and perhaps in love?) with Mysty.

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