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Please see my re-open request below (the question is currently closed). Thanks

You come to realise that you are a fictional character in a story.

EDIT In the light of a couple of answers, I need to emphasise that you are a character in a story that the author is currently writing. You are not an actor in a TV series.

Because you are a minor character, you have more freedom to act behind the scenes than the hero or heroine.

Would you be able to tell who the main characters were, just by their behaviour and what happened to them?

Is it safe to try and communicate with the author or is it better to lie low and hope s/he doesn't kill you off? In any case, how could you attract the attention of the author without behaving in such a way that you would be written out as irrelevant or destructive to the story-line?

While the author is busy with the main characters, would it be possible to convince other minor characters that, like you, they were fictional and perhaps start a riot or somehow interfere with the author's intentions in a significant way?

Main question

Can you suggest long-term strategies to -

Get yourself promoted to be an important character of the book. This means that your life will be much more interesting and you will have access to resources that you otherwise might not. Maybe you can even become the hero. [This has been edited to reduce appearance of referring to a single character.]

NOTES

  1. This is a non-magical, non hi-tech world. It could perhaps be crime fiction, romance or adventure but nothing too way out.

  2. The book has to have a happy ending with you as the good guy/gal. You can do evil things to achieve that but the author mustn't know about it or even suspect.

  3. You can't simply murder the current hero because then you would become a baddy. The author would have to get someone else to track you down and kill you. That person would become the hero instead of you.

  4. You cannot step out of the story and influence the real world directly. Your influence must occur within the action of the story itself.

  5. If you decide to travel, you can only go to places that the author has heard of. Be careful because he/she might only have a vague idea of what the place is like. There might be blank areas. Similarly with the author's knowledge of technology. You might try to repair your car and find a vague, meaningless lump of metal under the hood/bonnet.

Re-open request

As I understand it, this question was closed because it was deemed to be about the adventures of a single character, i.e. 'you'.

That is simply not the case. If, for example, I had prefaced the question with, "Michael Renfrew is a character in a story I'm writing. He is tall, dark, handsome and has a wooden leg and a parrot. His girlfriend is a policewoman ..." then that would be justified.

My use of 'you' is impersonal. It refers to any character who is living in a world that has certain well-defined characteristics. The question is to do with the mechanics of survival and self-betterment in such a world. The use of 'you' was an encouragement to the answerers to immerse themselves in the world in order to provide imaginative answers.

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closed as off-topic by HDE 226868, James, Samuel, Gilles, Aify Jul 27 '15 at 20:45

  • This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ This is the entire premise of the novel Redshirts. Main protagonist realizes he and everyone he knows is in a TV show, and they try to make contact with the authors/screenwriters. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redshirts_%28novel%29 $\endgroup$ – Steve Jul 21 '15 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ Gah! and I thought I was being so original! Haha - I'll definitely read it. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Jul 21 '15 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ Also, Last Action Hero (movie). $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 21 '15 at 3:23
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    $\begingroup$ Also, the Thursday Next novels! The characters in books have a life of their own when not being read. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 21 '15 at 3:27
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about the actions of an individual character, which is off topic. See also this meta discussion. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 27 '15 at 19:02

14 Answers 14

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So the very, very first thing you need to do is figure out your genre.

The same stories can have many different main characters, depending on how they're told and the goal of the story. If you're in a romance, your tactics will be very different from, say, action. So by genre:

Romance

The good news is that identifying the leads will be trivial. The bad news is the rest of this.

If you're female, you're probably in trouble. Very few romance novels are going to switch female leads. The best you can do is be interesting enough that you get a spin off novel in the future. Make sure you have a tragic past (even if you have to do it yourself), and try to flirt up a storm with whichever male romantic lead gets turned down.

If you're male, it's trickier. First, be really, really hot. Like the standards in romance novels are insane, if you don't have flowing hair and muscles on your muscles just throw in the towel now. Second, make the author fall in love with you - tragic past is helpful here too. I recommend finding a non-lead female and having a hot and heavy romance with her whenever the main characters are around, aim for the spin off.

Action

Identifying the main characters: Super easy. They're the people who laugh at the laws of probability, especially when it comes to bullets and bombs.

Strategy: I'd go for a military background. Join the special forces, etc. Then go into the police. Make sure you get married, have at least one child and then get divorced. Then start "accidentally" getting in trouble with gangs and/or people trying to take over the world. Either get a new partner when you start this, or have an old one who dies under mysterious circumstances to be your eventual archenemy.

This is the first genre where "name in the title" is a decent chance. Make sure you first name is one syllable, and your last should be 2-3 at most and ooze manliness (if you're the forgotten female action lead, go for sexy instead).

Mystery

Identifying the main character for this can be tricky, for obvious reasons. I recommend the following tactics:

  1. Don't kill anyone. That's a short street to being a one-book villain. If you must kill people, set up patsies, and surrender if caught. Going to jail almost guarantees your eventual escape and re-appearance, which is better than nothing.
  2. This may be obvious, but solve the mystery first. Really that's the only way. If you can't do this, spy on the main character and steal their credit.

This is another good one for getting your name in the title, make sure you pick a slightly complex name that sounds like it belongs in the 1930s.

Young Adult

Whenever someone slightly unusual moves to town, fall desperately in love with them.

Almost anything from Japan

Don't be the main character. Seriously. Just walk away and pray for your friends and family.

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    $\begingroup$ Japan: grow tentacles. Use tentacles to harass school-girls. I mean, you'll likely be killed by the main characters, but meanwhile you'd been a tentacle monster. $\endgroup$ – o0'. Jul 21 '15 at 9:53
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    $\begingroup$ Action: Become friend of an older character, to ensure that his retirement day is way sooner than yours. When he is about to retire, ensure that your weapon is missing/malfunctioning so that you can give him no assistence in case some random bad guy decides to kill him. Bonus points if his wife is younger and hot. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Jul 21 '15 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ Corrolary to the genre question: even if you think you've identified the genre, and even if your author loves tropes, there's still a good chance you're wrong, because that's a trope too. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WrongGenreSavvy $\endgroup$ – neminem Jul 21 '15 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for young adult (the simplicity compared to other genres made me laugh) and Japan (cos you're right.) $\endgroup$ – Level River St Jul 21 '15 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ If there's an unusually high mortality rate at weddings, run for your life! $\endgroup$ – Cephalopod Jul 22 '15 at 13:49
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The good news here is that the story which you've been incarnated into, lacks magic and big-science. In those respects, your story world is very much like the real world. In fact, it is the real world, or at least, it is the world which the author perceives as reality. As the author sees things, so they are for you and the other characters in your world.

Job one must be research. Go to the library and look up your author's name. Have they ever been published before. If so, check those books out and read them thoroughly. This will give you insights as to which kinds of minor characters survive and which one's don't.

*If your author's name turns out to be turns out to be "George R.R. Martin", you can save yourself some trouble and just give up on the whole idea of surviving. Some "games" just can't be won!

Unless your author's other books turn out to be urban fantasy or covert sci-fi, you must not attempt to contact the author. Doing so, risks not only your own destruction but also that of your entire world! For should you succeed in making contact, you will be fundamentally changing the nature of the story that you have been written into. Despite the author's best intentions, your actions will have shifted your story and your world into the realms of speculative fiction. If your author does not like speculative fiction, they may give up on the writing... drop your everything into a desk drawer and leave you without a future. I know many authors. Their desk drawers are overflowing with dead manuscripts which turned sour midway on their way to becoming real. You do not want that for your world; everybody, including the hero, frozen in time with no hope of completing their destinies.

It is best to lay low and play your cards carefully. Look for leads within your author's previous publications. If they like cliche, become cliche. If they like avuant garde then be original and creative.

Look for your author's writing weaknesses and be ready. Then, when the plot stalls momentarily (as all plots do), jump in and drive the story forward with all your might. Writer's Blocks are your real opportunities. They are the moments when the author is desperate and afraid.

Once you've rescued your author from a few terrifying plot problems, they will be ready to follow you all the way to the happy ending.

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    $\begingroup$ Joss Whedon, George R. R. Martin and Steven Moffat walk into a bar, and everyone you've ever loved dies. $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jul 21 '15 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty sure the author's other books won't exist in your universe. Plus there's always the problem of finding out who your author is in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Ajedi32 Jul 22 '15 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Ajedi32 Go to the library, and see which books are not fuzzy. Eventually, the character may find a whole author whose books are way more clear than any other authors. Either this is your author, or your author is a huge fan of this author. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Jul 22 '15 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Huh? Was that reply intended for DoubleDouble perhaps? $\endgroup$ – Ajedi32 Jul 24 '15 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Ajedi32 - Oops, yes indeed, apologies. Double vision from webulating too late at night! Have redone it. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Jul 24 '15 at 11:48
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Using the novel Redshirts as the material for this answer:

Would you be able to tell who the main characters were, just by their behavior and what happened to them?

Yes. If you notice that various members of your group act strangely or overly dramatic at various times, then that is when the "plot takes control". Also, members of the group who are constantly brought to the brink of death only to be saved time and time again are probably also main characters.

Is it better to try and communicate with the author that you are sentient or is it better to lie low and hope s/he doesn't kill you off?

Usually, when the plot takes control, your own actions may be a part of the story, or will otherwise be omitted from the view of "The Camera" or "The Reader". Or in other words, you have free will whenever the story isn't focused on you, but the moments where the story is surrounding you are the moments you may not be able to communicate, since the plot takes control of your actions. So, making direct contact with the author/writers can be very difficult if not impossible without some kind of back door.

Avoiding being killed off is possible for a while, but as there are only a finite number of characters in your group, you may eventually be employed in a plot which may be fatal. Hiding in rarely visited areas of the story do work, and you can even help other minor characters by signaling them when the plot / major characters are approaching them, but this is a fragile system to maintain.

How could you attract the attention of the author without behaving in such a way that you would be written out as irrelevant or inessential or destructive to the story-line?

Again, because your universe hosts their story/show, whenever the writer/author creates a scene with you in it, you will find yourself suddenly and irrationally doing and saying things that you would never intend to. You can try to send subliminal messages, say by arranging the "main bridge" or your universes equivalent of it with hidden messages, but those will inevitably be interpreted as the production staff's own pranks or in-jokes. (A Pineapple hidden in some scene in every episode of Psych, for example).

One way to assure your survival is to kidnap one of the main characters. If you've been able to convince a number of colleagues to help, use a backdoor; say, a magical/fantastic story element that is established such as a wormhole, to try to visit the author's universe. By kidnapping a main character, you are assuring that macroscopic issues like the destruction of your entire group can't happen, as the kidnapped main character can't die. (Warning, TvTropes link: Plot Armor) By using a backdoor to get to the authors universe, you may be able to make first contact and make appropriate changes to your universe.

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  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I didn't make it explicit. I'll add it now. There's no magic and no "big-science". This could be a Mills and Boone story or any story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Jul 21 '15 at 0:38
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    $\begingroup$ I'm concerned about kidnapping the main character. Doesn't that immediately make you a baddy? That sounds like a very dangerous place to be. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Jul 21 '15 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ Visit the author's universe and kidnap the author. $\endgroup$ – Mr.Mindor Jul 21 '15 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ Get hold of pen and paper and start writing the author's story. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Jul 21 '15 at 23:12
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Be entertaining and endearing, so you develop your own fanbase. The author will be very reluctant to kill you off, because that would enrage the fans. They might even consider to give you some more screentime. Maybe you even get so popular that you get your own spin-off story.

A few hints to make the audience like you:

  • Do something funny once in a while. Everyone likes the comic relief and they very rarely are killed off.
  • Be brave and laugh in the face of danger. The audience likes daring heroes. When you act like a coward and beg for your life, then in the best case you are a replacable damsel in distress whose only purpose is to be rescued by the actually important characters (or not) and in the worst case a red shirt about to get killed off. But when you act brave and try your best to get yourself out of trouble no matter how bad the odds are, you will likely succeed no matter how implausible and the audience will love you for it.
  • Make use of any opportunity to be nice to children, animals and other beings which are weaker than you.
  • People are more attracted to people who show the same emotions they feel. So it is important to mirror the emotions the audience likely feels. When a major character dies, don't be afraid to shed a tear. When something funny happens, laugh along.
  • Make up a dark and troubled backstory for yourself which shows your character depth. This makes people more interested in your character development.
  • Let everyone know your name. Having a name makes you important.
  • When you are physically attractive, showing some skin can help (regardless of gender).
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    $\begingroup$ Being the likeable sidekick might make you the one that dies first, for pathos.... $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Jul 21 '15 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ "Be entertaining and endearing, so you develop your own fanbase. The author will be very reluctant to kill you off, because that would enrage the fans. " Tell that to George R. R. Martin $\endgroup$ – Joze Jul 22 '15 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Joze When you happen to be a character in the ASOIAF universe, my best advice would be to not try to be a major character, and instead lay low and hope the author forgets about you. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Jul 22 '15 at 14:48
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I was originally going to suggest killing the current hero, but the notes prevent me from doing that :P

An option (more of a circumvent) would be to wait for someone to kill the current hero and you kill the baddy and become the Hero (as suggested in the Notes section).

Another option would be to hire a spy to observe the hero and predict where he is going to travel. You then arrive earlier than the hero and perform good deeds before they can. It's a matter of firsts.

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    $\begingroup$ The last option would mean that you just become the less likeable rival to the protagonist who overshadows him at first and in the end gets surpassed by him. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Jul 21 '15 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, now that I think about it sounds a lot like the original Pokemon games when Blue has already beaten all the gym leaders and the Elite Four before you. $\endgroup$ – Doge Jul 22 '15 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Returning to this years later, I realise that persuading another gullible minor character to kill the hero would allow you to either save said hero or to lead the investigation into his/her death. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 25 '18 at 0:10
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I don't think anyone else has mentioned: Be Deadpool. He didn't start out as a main-protagonist.

You know you're in a story, you can be the guy who reads the subtitles.

Alternatively you can be the Genre Savvy character, unfortunately the Genre Savvy character always dies unless he can become the comic relief.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, this question basically describes Deadpool. I wouldn't call him a main-protagonist of his universe, but the franchise of his universe is big enough to give him a lot of lime lot. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Jul 21 '15 at 18:05
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We have to start from the fact you are a minor character, and that you know it. By definition, that means that you are not vital to the plot, story, etc.. As others have said, you must identify the main character. Although I don’t think you can depend on having meta information like finding out who the author is nor gauging your genre.

Nonetheless, you must identify the main character! Like others have said, they will be outstanding in some way. It may be easy or obvious (and possibly how you came to find out you are the minor character) or you may have to search (you could be in their flashback, and you only knew them in elementary school) or possibly the worst case, you aren’t in the story yet. You will have to maintain vigilance because at any moment they might float in and then out of your life (You might be one of the other drivers in Office Space, for instance) Assuming you find the main character(s), your real task begins. Taking a look at common character progression across most genres, to go from minor character to something more, you have to do the following:

  • Interact with the main character, the more the better, and the more important/valuable you are the better. The more frequent the interaction, and more magnitude (attention) you can pull, the better.

  • Become vital – remove other competing sources of whatever you provide, or simply be “the best” at it.

This can be shown in the following examples:

Bella had friends in the first Twilight book. How much air time did they get in the Fourth? Jacob was a minor character and/or not present in the first book (I don’t recall) but became one of the main characters by the end. These changes happened solely because of how much time they spent with the main character and how much value they added to the story.

Many stories have a quest to find some object or information. The first time this occurs, the main characters spend a lot of time scouting and scheming and hunting and whatnot. The second time, they do straight to their ‘dealer’, and only if that person cannot provide will they continue their quest. Adventure Time has a chance encounter with “Choose Goose” early on, and now he is a regular salesperson. (salesgoose?). Often baddies-turned-goodies are huge sources of information. At first, anything they say is suspect and can spawn side-quests and other stories. By the second season, their capacity is reduced to tomes and fact-checkers. (Hey, when you were in Hydra, did they have this superweapon?)

But, like in the examples, you can ascend from minor character to main, typically by being incredibly useful. Perhaps it is what makes main character main in the first place, their ability to succeed. Take any team-based story, and ever main character fills a role. When they leave/die, that role is filled by either a new character, or the most qualified minor character. The frequency that you appear both determines and is determined by your usefulness and apparent value.

So, to get back to the question, attach yourself to the main character and become useful. Help them succeed as often and loudly as possible. Getting noticed by the main character is about as good as getting noticed by the author and readers, as they are your ONLY chance in the long run. The more duties and responsibilities you can absorb from other characters, the more you will be discussed, referred, and consulted. The more action you can wrest from the main characters, the more “screen time” you will be afforded.

Considerations:

You cannot be evil, unless the main characters are evil. Then you can only be less-evil than them. (Yes, I meant that). You can do bad things, sure, but they have to be able to be shuffled under the rug by “seedy past” or “baddie-turned-goodie” tropes. If you are actively bad while in the temporal presence of the main characters, you will get stuck as a baddie, and will probably not say long in that story.

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Anyone who's written a story without planning it out well in advance will have encountered this supporting character. They start as just a throwaway, but then they're the obvious one to deliver that hook, they refuse to be made two-dimensional and come up with better ideas than you expected, their presence ties together different plot arcs in much more complex and delightful ways, and they add emotion and depth to the other characters. As they become the main character's best friend, they have the chance (at least in more epic stories) of having the baton passed to them as the main character fades back or dies off. The main character is, by and large, immune to random "accidents", but not to aging, or to becoming seriously wounded in pursuit of their goals. So long as those goals are things which can be completed by another, it's feasible to have the baton passed to a secondary character.

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Manipulate and control other characters (specially, the heroes). Discover their wishes, their secrets and use them in your favor.

In Spain, there's a example of a classic romance story, La Celestina.

The first versions were called The Tragic Comedy of Calisto and Melibea, as those characters, Calisto and Melibea, were the protagonists. Calisto wanted the love of Melibea, and sought help from Celestina, and old match-maker. Celestina controls all other characters at her will and becomes the main character.

Bonus: Latter editions of the book are titled "La Celestina".

Extra-bonus: In Spanish, "celestina" is now also a word for match-maker.

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My first question is:

How do you know you are in a story?

If you have evidence that you are in a story, you can gain support from other characters. This could also backfire. Others with this knowledge—perhaps those you've shared it with; perhaps someone independent—may not support you. They may compete with you to take over the story, or simply draw support away from you. If you don't have evidence, you're on your own.

Based on the OP's notes, you have reproducible evidence that you are in a story.


The character's more pressing concern is:

Is this a tragedy?

Frankly, your character can't know know this answer unless the author communicates it to them, and that assumes the author is honest and doesn't change their mind.

You could attempt communication with the author. I don't recommend this. The author is (more or less) omnipotent, and you don't know if the author is benevolent. Your ability to arrange communication with the author is also questionable.

Given the OP's question and the 'happy ending' requirement, I will assume this is not a tragedy.


The next question is:

Is the nature of the work episodic?

It will be hard for the character to determine this—chapters in a book can look a lot like books in a series—so it will be up to the character to determine if the drama is on a steady rise. A steady rise is more likely a single story; otherwise, episodic.

An episodic work is much more amenable to new characters. Based on the OP's question, I'm going to assume the work is non-episodic in which case the character needs to get involved in the story now. The farther we get into the story, the less amenable an author is to introducing new characters.

There are perks to being in the background, behind the scenes. If you can enlist support from other characters, proceed to enter the fray: your friends can do any dirty work you can't do once in the author's spotlight. If you're on your own, it will pay off to stay a background character while you set things in motion only if you can still become a main character. Try to gauge where you are in the work and the pace of the work. If you're at the beginning, you've got a little time to spare. If the work only covers one day, you have no time; if it covers your whole life, you've got loads.


Now comes the problem of

How do I become a main character?

If the story centers around a group of main characters as a group, you simply need to meet the qualifications for joining this group (the implicit qualifications the author is using, not the group's standards: they might just let anybody in).

If it's a tight group or otherwise you need to supplant an existing character. I haven't done a lot of usurping, but I'm going to suggest this process:

  1. Select the character you wish to replace
  2. Become their (friendly) rival
  3. Exploit their tragic flaw (secretly)
    • Hopefully you were able to set this up prior to becoming a main character
    • If not, I hope you have cohorts who can set this up for you
    • If the character does not have a tragic flaw, you must induce or create one
      • The tragic flaw of last resort: Bad things happen

Done correctly, their fall coincides with your rise, and you become a main character. A successful rivalry puts you on par with the person you're replacing; a friendly rivalry means the other main characters should be accepting of you; you are a natural replacement close at hand and thus most likely to fill the gap.

There is the villain route (see Hurkly's answer). I don't recommend this because you enter the author's realm of control, so your control over the heel-face turn is in question.


Bonus points:

How do I get my name in the title?

First: You have to have a name. If you have gained a sense of the story, choose either a symbolic name considering your role if it's a heavy story. Otherwise choose a catchy nickname and spread it around like a brand.

Second: You must become the main main character. If the story centers around your gang, you should become the leader of your gang. Otherwise, I hope you quickly supplanted the main main character. If the author was going to use someone's name, the name of the person in that role is most likely. Other characters with a shot would be their mentor, parent, or the local leader who organized or hired your gang.

Third: The author decides to do this. You really have no control over this unless you somehow managed to develop an endearing relationship with the author.

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In fiction, in a series of stories written over time and consumed to give feedback while more are being written, this is called a Breakout Character. The tvtropes site also has details with examples on variations such as A Day in the Limelight.

Hercule Poirot was not meant to be the franchise he became: Agatha lamented on how she found that little man so annoying.

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First off, awesome idea. I am aware of many of the existing works that people have mentioned, as well as several episodes of Supernatural, but I think they are all not quite the same thing.

Also, it is taking a great deal of willpower not to just write this story myself, that's how much I like the idea.

Now, the character has to first discover that they are in a work of fiction. How would one go about this? Well, the more hackneyed the writer, or the more the genre is a trope, the easier this is. The key point is that the narrative must become obvious, and events that occur must seem improbable except in the context of a narrative.

So, moments of exposition must take place in front of our minor character.

Next, the hero-to-be must figure out who the main characters are, and from them, who is the current hero, and how to insinuate themselves into that person's circle.

I would tend to think this should be done covertly. Who knows what the author will do once he figures out what you are up to, or that your actions don't fit the narrative? You should also beware of fitting too well into any stereotypical roles. For instance, when talking to the hero, figure out a way to slip into the conversation that your insurance policy is up to date so as to avoid being tragically killed or having your apartment demolished just for pathos.

Work behind the scenes. If the hero is heading to a formal party, get there the day before and leave plot devices that will steer the narrative in a direction favorable to you. But this is key: Do this in a way that doesn't directly incriminate you. Maybe hire someone else to do it.

The genre of Detective Noir fits your concept perfectly. First off, the title can fit you in without any problem and without being too obvious; "A Dame to Kill For" or "The Shadow at Midnight". Secondly, it is usually told from the detective's perspective, none of this 'Omniscient Narrator' business, which leaves you plenty of opportunity to work behind the scenes. Plus, when the writer figures out that you are behind some of these plot devices, they will make sense in context of the genre, and he'll just think he was really clever writing you that way.

A scene early in the story where the detective is searching the mobster's office when he hears voices outside the office and he ducks under the desk. There he finds a note taped to the underside which the mobster couldn't have left...

Later he meets a shadowy informant in a dark alley who give him information on behalf of his employer: a mysterious 'Mr. M' (Your character's first initial -- but wait! There are red herrings!) The detective deduces that Mr. M left the note for him. The shadowy informant laughs, "No that note wasn't for you, it was for the Author. He just needed you to read it so it would be in the story!"

In the end, the detective's car is sabotaged (obviously the mob's work?), and the bit character gives him a lift, soon after saving the detective's life and uncovering the vital clue, solving the mystery.

Does Mr. M do a happy dance and confess everything to both the clueless detective and the oblivious author (sorry)? Or does he (she...?) leave it up to the reader to figure out, smug in the knowledge that they went from a one-page write-off to the main character with no one the wiser?

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  • $\begingroup$ Haha! Go ahead and write it - I certainly won't be doing so. Make sure to mention me in the credits and, if you make a lot of money, I wouldn't say no to a small share in the profits! $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Jul 23 '15 at 14:57
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Don't reject the villain route too quickly — if you can set yourself up for a dramatic Heel-Face Turn, you have a good shot at making the main cast. The tricky part is avoiding Redemption Equals Death.

This gambit works especially well if you're an attractive female.

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Become Murdoch. If you can be something so compelling, so true to self, that the fans love it, even if you die you are not done.

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