“People come for the plot, and stay for the characters.”
This is a little something that I’ve come to notice in all the time that I have spent pouring over books. I go to the library to find a new book (because there’s only so many times you can read Princess Academy before you start getting exhausted of reciting it in your sleep), and what immediately draws my attention is
the cover the plot. But when it comes down to it, I stay for the characters. They’ve become my best friends and I want to see what happens to them next. Your little buddy(s) that you’ve created inside your head are the main driving force of the story. If we, the readers, can’t relate or feel with the character going through their journey or personal struggles, we start to snore. Worst case scenario is that we forget where we left your book from library at and rack up a million dollar fine.
Luckily, I’ve figured out a few ways to help with the relatability of your characters for those who are having a difficult time trying to understand the whole other person that you have created. Sometimes it can be a little tricky, but hey- that’s the reason why we have editors.
1.) Don’t make your character perfect.
Those sparkling eyes! That silky hair! Those pearly white teeth! That perfect athletic body! That amazing attitude! They have no flaws! …Yeah, I’m not feeling it. Most people find it difficult to relate with or understand perfect characters because, like I said earlier, they have no faults. Flaws are what make people human and help us connect with each other. So if you’re going to consider a gorgeous model for the main protagonist, give them character flaws such as: short tempers, health issues, phobias, paranoias, too trusting, anxiety issues- anything you can think of. Give them a problem that we can see them struggling with throughout the story. Or you could make them ugly, show the details of how it affects their life, and then show us how they dealt with it. The combinations and possibilities are endless.
2.) Don’t make your character indestructible.
Have you ever heard of the Stormtrooper Effect? For those of you who haven’t, it’s when the antagonist(s) are trying to shoot or hurt your protagonist(s), and they miss every time. The bad guys always miss. I, however, strongly recommend that you do not do this. Don’t get me wrong– don’t go John Green on us and kill your main character recklessly– but don’t be afraid to let your character get hurt. The brass facts is that if your protagonist is bringing a knife to a gun fight, they will most likely get shot a few times before they can get a single hit in.
Or maybe you’re not writing a story with a lot of action, gunfights, and punching in it. That’s alright- the same goes for your story nonetheless. Show us that there are consequences for your character’s decisions and actions. If your character is at a bar and had never touched alcohol before, I doubt that they can have 10 straight shots of whiskey and not even get tipsy. If your child protagonist is trying to sneak out of the house and gets caught by an angry Mom and Dad, don’t give the parents magic happy juice and only let them off with a warning. If the situation doesn’t sound realistic, don’t write it in your story. The more realistic your story is, the more relatable it is.
3.) Don’t make your character emotionless.
Humans are not robots. Unless your protagonist is a robot- then you might want to take this tip with a grain of salt. But if your character is not a robot, please don’t make them emotionless. People deal with emotions in a vast amount of different ways. From detaching themselves from the situation so they won’t feel, making hurtful sarcastic remarks, making a joke out of everything, and to spilling everything out into the open. This is where doing a little digging for information on the internet could really benefit you.
And there you go! That’s all I have to say on these topics! I hope you have a good day, and thank you for your time to read the posts!