If you're like me, you love the Marvel heroes. The Avengers is one of your favorite movies, a rainy weekend just begs a movie marathon with lots of action, and you love Tony Stark.
Of all of the amazing Marvel characters, Tony Stark is by far my favorite. He's super smart, by far the best in his field, charismatic, and rich. He definitely has his character flaws: Tony Stark can be a jerk, and though he has a lot of fun, he has substance abuse issues, intimacy issues, PTSD issues (the list goes on). But, in a word, Tony Stark is awesome. I don't know anyone who likes the Iron Man movies and didn't walk away from them--the first one at least--wanting to be Tony Stark. As a main character, he is spectacular.
So I ask again, is your main character Iron Man? That is, do your readers want to be your main character after reading your book?
Writers are always looking for a way to amp-up their writing. Create tension, perfect the pacing, utilize the right prose, and...create compelling characters. Books and blogs on writing will often emphasize the importance of compelling characters. You want to make your characters realistic, interesting people that readers want to know more about. Your readers need to care about your characters, especially your main character. But that can be hard to do. What makes someone interesting? What makes them real?
That "real" aspect can be especially hard in fantasy, where your characters are not living in a realistic time and place. If your MC is an elf, it can be hard to inject the right amount of "real." If the setting is a sahara-esque region and the technology is circa the middle ages, how "real" can everything seem without people dying of starvation and pestilence? All writing is hard, and the more removed from reality, the harder it can be to develop those realistic and interesting characters that modern day fiction calls for.
So I've developed (and by developed I probably just mean renamed a method that is already used by authors all over and probably has a dozen names) the Iron Man Method (Marvel, please don't sue me).
Iron Man is a compelling character. Tony Stark is even more compelling. And he exists on the edge of reality and fantasy, making him the perfect model for writers. (Warning, if you are writing a Catcher in the Rye type novel where you don't really want people to want to be your character--no one should want to be Holden--then the Iron Man Method is not for you).
First, the good attributes of Tony Stark:
1. He is rich and has all the toys and comfort afforded by piles of money.
2. He is famous.
3. He is very self-confident.
4. He is incredibly smart--the best in the technology field.
5. He is Iron Man
Now, the bad attributes of Tony Stark:
1. He is spoiled.
2. He is arrogant and egotistical.
3. He has drinking problems.
4. He has relationship problems.
5. He's arrogant (again).
He's not perfect, I could easily come up with as many bad attributes as good, but look at the "good" list again. Who doesn't want to be wealthy, famous, confident, smart, and a super hero? Maybe you don't want to be famous right now, but if you were that self-confident? Not to mention, Robert Downy, Jr. is very attractive, meaning that Iron Man is also. Every time I watch Iron Man, I wish I was like him. I want to go out and take a computer class (or 20), learn advanced mathematics (even though I am awful at math), and do something incredible (like design a metal suit that turns me into a super hero). Even if I only feel this way for 10 minutes after the movie, it means that the character stuck with me. He was compelling enough that I wanted to be him.
And his negative attributes? You want him to work through those. Or not. The drinking and relationship problems? Work through them, Tony! The fact that he's spoiled? We can live with it. And that arrogance? Well, honestly, deep down, I think most of his fans feel that he deserves it. Maybe he doesn't have to be such a jerk, but...he can get away with it, especially if he keeps the humor.
So look at your main character and examine his or her strengths and weaknesses. Would anyone want to be that character? Do you? If you don't, think about if you should or if you have a character more like Holden or Cartman from South Park-->compelling characters that no one wants to be. If you should want to be like your character, make sure you highlight those good attributes. Is your character strong? Intelligent? Does she have a lot of friends? Can she hold her breath underwater for 5 minutes? And those bad attributes? Maybe she can be a bit conceited about her intelligence (think Hermione Granger) but we overlook that because she can be helpful, too.
So use the Iron Man model. Make your readers want to be your main character, at least while reading the book and for a few minutes afterward. And make sure that their bad attributes can be worked through (or at least ones that your readers hope they can work through), and that the good outweighs the bad, or explain and justify the bad.
So write a character bio. Write a list of pros and cons. Write your book and then go back and make sure that your character is a character that your readers will connect with. You as an author have a responsibility to make realistic, interesting, and compelling characters that your reader can connect with and want to be.