You’re writing a book. Yay! You send it out to people to read. That’s so brave! Look at you, you rockstar.
It feels awesome, right?
And then you hear from those readers: I don’t like your character. I don’t—I don’t know—connect with them?
When this happens, you are not allowed to:
- Yell at those readers.
- Threaten those readers.
- Give up on that story.
Well, you could but you might go to jail and all your work on that novel will be for nothing.
So, it’s totally okay to:
- Whine/cry for a second.
- Be a little depressed about it.
- Not give up on that story.
And what you want to do is figure out how to make readers like and connect with your main character super quickly.
So here goes. Five quick ways.
- Gossip – Your readers want to know what makes your character tick, what makes them vulnerable. They want the deets, the gossip, right? They want to know something about your character that nobody else knows.
- Goodness – Even if your character sucks a bit, you want to show the reader that they are someone that the reader wants to spend time with. Show that human worth, the fundamental goodness that’s somewhere in there. Make them actively do something good even if they are the devil.
- Going all Angsty – The reason stories work is that the characters want something but they are conflicted about things inside. There’s got to be a bit of inner struggle. There has to be an outer struggle too. That struggle creates tension. Will they be okay? Will they get what they are searching for? What is holding them back?
- Going into the Reasons – You don’t want to flood your stories with flashbacks. You don’t want to be Captain Info-dump, but you do want the reader to know that there is something that has made your character the angsty mess that they are and that something haunting stems from the past. The time before the story.
- Goal!!! – I’ve already hinted at this, but your poor little character needs a goal, something they are striving for. The push towards that goal creates the tension.
Writer Chuck Wendig has said,
“You are the dealer; the character is the drug. The audience will do anything to spend time with a great character. We’re junkies for it. We’ll gnaw our own arms off to read just one more page with a killer character. It’s why sequels and series are so popular—we want to see where the character’s going. If you give us a great character, it becomes our only desire to lick him like he’s a hallucinogenic toad and take a crazy trip-ass ride where he has to go.”
Writing Tip of the Pod
Make your characters irresistible any way possible. Memorable characters are addictive.
Dog Tip for Life
Vulnerability is okay. It connects us. If nobody was vulnerable then nobody could be brave.
Links We Talk About In Random Thoughts
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.