Good characterization is the main reason a story sells or bombs. Characters are the people we want to read about and care about when we pick up a book. The most wonderful plot and the most brilliant dialogues cannot save books that feature weak and uninteresting characters. Here are some things to avoid when you create characters:
Characters who don’t serve a purpose in the story
Have you ever wondered why an author put in certain characters in the book you were reading? Some books seem to have an endless list of characters who drift in and out of the book, without having said or done anything memorable. Introducing an interesting and unique character will serve no purpose, if the character has no need to be there and does not help to move the story forward.
Besides the protagonist, and perhaps the antagonist, you should certainly have a few secondary characters who will add to the story. However, it is important to keep only as many secondary characters as are absolutely essential, and who will definitely contribute to the story- a best friend, a supportive colleague, or one who was responsible for a traumatic experience that shaped the hero’s life, or someone who just gives a valuable clue to the hero.
The following banner is an affiliate one. That means Writing Tips Oasis receive a small % of the sale if you purchase The Novel Factory, but at no extra cost to you:
Characters who are shallow
You don’t want to have characters who are like cardboard cutouts. These characters don’t seem real, don’t add any appeal or interest to the story, and often confuse readers as to their presence in the book. The main characters should be three-dimensional and complex persons, who have many layers and a lot of depth. Their personalities and characteristics should be revealed as we read along, and keep us intrigued.
Characters whom readers cannot connect with
It is likely that your characters are well-rounded, described in depth, and their motivations clearly explained. But that doesn’t mean they will strike a chord with the reader. The protagonist and leading characters need to have some quality or characteristic that readers can empathize and sympathize with. If readers don’t feel a connection with the character, they won’t care much about what happens to them.
This is why some characters are well-remembered or much beloved, long after we have put down the book, like Liz Bennett or Ron Weasley or Clarice Starling, while we cannot remember characters from other books we have just read an hour ago.
Characters who all seem and sound the same
Since you are the sole creator of all your characters, it is not difficult to imagine that there may be some similarities between your characters. However, having characters who talk the same way or think the same way, even though they come from different backgrounds, can be quite grating to readers.
It is really important to give each character a different voice and a different personality. Without the benefit of a visual medium like film, readers should be able to identify and distinguish the different characters from their dialogues and actions.
Characters who are boring
Yes, real people can be sometimes boring and they may lead dull lives. For most real people, not much may happen in the way of exciting events. But who wants to read about them? Books get made about something or someone that is interesting or fun or different. It is not as important to make characters seem realistic as to make them seem interesting. Readers would only commit to spending several hours reading about exciting, intriguing and complex characters.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]