Creating compelling characters

When writing a story the most important thing one must focus on is creating a compelling character. I am not here to tell you the dos and do nots about writing about or even creating a character but there are a few things you need to think about.

  1. Why should the reader care about the character? When someone is reading a story they are looking to get something out of it. Maybe it is learning, catharsis, or even just entertainment. The difference between an ok story and a good story is whether the story had an effect on the reader. Will they think about the story after they finished reading it? Will they want to read it again? The best way to evoke these emotions is to make the reader genuinely invested in the character. Do they want to be the character or do they want to be with the character?
  2. Make the character likeable This is probably just a personal gripe but very often I don’t actually like the main character. It is never ok for a character to be disliked by the reader because if they don’t like or don’t care the reading experience us terrible or just boring. There are lots of things th a Make a character good or bad but the reader must always agree or understand their actions. Your character can be selfish and cruel but the reader must always root for them. Readers want stories about good, decent people doing heroic things and if your character does do something selfish or morally grey you NEED to convince the reader it was right thing to do.
  3. Give your character goals and motivation Even if your story is very short you need to give your character a clear goal or motivation. Having a goal will make the reader want to see your character accomplish it and the reader will feel.very satisfied once they do. The more dedicated and motivated your character is the more invested the reader will be. Even if it takes a long time and the character gets side tracked they should always be motivated by their goal even if it vague like to survive, to go home, to be the best, to defeat a foe or even just to grow.
  4. Make the character relatable The characters I enjoy the most are the ones I relate to the most. This maybe selfish but everyone is at least a little bit narcissistic. The more similar their goals or insecurities are to your own the more easily relatable the character is and the more invested you get. Something a lot of writers do and is very successful is to make the main character as plain and generic possible so the reader projects themselves onto them. The main character becomes more like an avatar of the reader than a character. This can make your main character boring but will make the reader easier to relate to them.
  5. Don’t make the character too powerful too early or easily Unless you are writing a male/female power fantasy DONT MAKE YOUR CHARACTER OVER POWERED! Your character can be the most beautiful or very talented but they cannot be the best from the beginning. If your character is too powerful or everything seems to take very little effort there are no stakes since the reader knows the character will never lose. Everything they achieve should at least seem to take some effort and this will make every achievement and victory feel more satisfying. If everything is easy for the character the reader won’t be emotionally invested. If the final boss is easy it won’t have an impact. Even if your character is talented or the chosen one they should continuously grow and the final obstacle should always seem too difficult or impossible to achieve.

When writing one must think of more than getting from A to B to C. Your character and the journey should make an impact on the reader.

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2 thoughts on “Creating compelling characters

  1. My reading pleasure is directly in association with my rapport with the characters. If I don’t bond with them then I find I don’t enjoy the book.

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  2. Completely agree! I admit I don’t really think about this when I’m writing, I just write what I feel like I’m supposed to. But I’ve read so many books that the main character – especially if it’s a 1st person story – is so annoying or easy to dislike. And if you dislike the person that is basically telling you the story then it’s going to become so hard if not impossible to love the book.

    Liked by 1 person

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