Curious yet cautious, childish yet responsible, smart yet dorky, genre-savvy yet not self-aware.
He’s easily the protagonist I’ve had most fun writing in my life, even though ”fun” doesn’t mean ”easy”. When writing a protagonist, I usually live by two golden rules: ”Do Not Create A Mary Sue” and ”Do not create a Hero Archetype”, as I strongly dislike both, but they tend to seep into my works easily.
Because of that, I was quite nervous when creating Cole; breaking my usual pace of making one big character sheet for myself before I even lay down the first line of the story, I thought that he would come out as a huge mess. And even after all these chapters, I still do wonder if I am doing it right. So I’ll say I am quite glad of where he ended in the poll; not the most popular character, yet not the most unpopular either.
From the very beginning, the base idea that gave birth to Cole was, to put it like this, ”My own concept of the Everydude”, which may not match the Trope Conventions or even its conventional archetypes. But that idea was hard to balance on story, as if I steered too much towards my own concept, I could had ended up with an Self-Insert Protagonist (something I utterly despise), but if I went too far into the Everydude side, I would’ve ended up with a Kind of Indistinct and Rarely Interesting Type of Oxymoron (or K.I.R.I.T.O. for short, tee hee), who is so tailored to appeal to all audiences that he’s got no personality of its own beyond ”The Hero of this Story™”, so the big struggle was keeping him on a middle point between the two, and have him show his traits rather than tell the reader about them.
That aside, as the only member of the cast (besides Mizelle) without any real knowledge of the societies and common knowledge that the others have. But at the same time, he has his own knowledge; his own set of skills. And while these don’t turn him into an ass-kicking badass, they prevent him from becoming a useless bag of tag-along, constantly in need of others’ protection.
Similarly to Zalura, if I had to use one word to describe Cole that would be ”Ingenious” (Not Ingenuous, that’s something else). He’s no genius or gifted all-knower, all he has is the simple skill of understanding that which surrounds him through analysis, trial and error, and in doing such, learns how to make use of it, or even what wholly different use said medium on a way mayhaps not yet thought of. And this applies to everything; from the functioning of an Unit, to Haudrica’s behavior, to the purpose of the Phylactery. All of these are questions he has, and that he does not expect to get an all-encompassing answer, but a tiny fragment of plausible truth which in time gives place to other questions.
All of that WOULD make him a rather intellectual and philosophical type of character…. emphasis on WOULD. He simply does not take himself, or even his entire situation, with the degree of seriousness most people in such situation would show, and while he knows when to get serious, if the situation doesn’t call for it, he will usually regard what surrounds him with the same kind of eagerness and childish curiosity as your average gamer exploring a new open world map. And this leads us to another of his traits; his genre-savviness.
Games, movies, manga, anime, and to some extent, books and novels (and I admit this is the part of his character that strongest resembles my own self; write what you know, after all). He has enough grasp of fiction to draw parallels with his own ordeal, which in time serve to give him some psychological grounding that spares him the more basic fear of the unknown a non-savvy person would show in such situation. However, he is not so savvy as to being self-aware, or consider his situation as silly, or maybe even unreal. And yes, such savviness creates ”an expectation of the unknown”, which he yearns to explore for the sake of answering the very simple questions of ”What lies over there? What is that? Why is this here? How did this happen? What does this do? Who were this people?” whose answers will only serve to fuel his curiosity even more.
But, like with all the other members of the cast, this is but the base; the basic concept from which he will develop as a character.
So, once again I ask the questions (albeit some slightly different ones): What is that you find engaging in Cole? Is he a proper protagonist? Do you feel he is a relatable character? Is there something specific of him that’s the main point of interest? Any details in particular you might want to know about him? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this at the comments.