Thursday, September 12, 2013

What Makes Your Character Interesting

There are a lot of times when I look at a submission and have to ask myself, "What was the author thinking when she (or he) created this character?" The more you take a look at the story and the storyline, it becomes very clear what the author was thinking. The intent was to make the character interesting by making them weird (it was the best word I could come up with at the time). I honestly believe that many authors believe that the way to make their book stand out among all of the other books out there is to create a character that really comes across as being a caricature.

There is really nothing wrong with coming up with an interesting quirk to the character as long as the "quirk" doesn't become too distracting for the storyline. When this happens, it forces you to have to spend far too much time in the storyline explaining it, rationalizing it and then working the story around it.

In the real world, when we think about what makes someone interesting, it isn't the bizarre life the person has, but probably their personality, the image they give across to anyone who comes into contact with them.

A good test for your characters is to ask yourself if you would really want to hang out with him or her in the real world. Would you go to a party with them? Would you want to hang out with the character at a bar or restaurant?

One of the things we have to remember with our stories is that, as authors, it is our responsibility to build a connection between the characters and your readers. It is that connection that allows the readers to become emotionally attached to the things that happen to them in the story. If we don't have that connection, then we really won't care what happens to them.

Think about those really great tear-jerker movies we watch. Why is it that we really react to some and others, we simply look at the characters and say "Oh well." It is the fact that something that character did, some way they act, is exactly the way we think and act. We understand.

When we have created characters that are so strange, so different, and so bizarre, the readers really can't connect.

So, what type of characters do you connect with? What is it that makes the hero someone you want to cheer for or the heroine someone who you can cry with? (And, by the way, we aren't just talking about their looks or what they do in bed).

1 comment:

  1. I try to make the main character(s) someone I would like to hang out with but I like the antagonist to be at least unpleasant. But I think that each should have enough of opposing characteristics to be human.