How vulnerable are your characters?
August 29, 2015
ONE OF THE THINGS I look for most in the books I read is what makes the characters attractive to me.
Vulnerability does it for me. A story line or plot may be great but if the characters don’t “bleed,” the book leaves me wanting more. Anti-heroes are the best example. Those characters may do something you don’t agree with or is just wrong, but if you get a peek into their soul, why they are compelled to do the deed, or what they are feeling, you may empathize.
You may still hate that character, but you may also be able to relate to why they got to that point.
Good characters (with white hats) have to have some flaws, a point at which they crack, or struggle to do the right thing. Better still, let them do the wrong thing, and then try to make it right.
I grapple with this in my own writing. My main character, Annie, is too good. I keep trying to make her more human, put a wart on her nose, so to speak. I find it hard. Moving the plot along, and having her be one of the plot drivers is not as hard as making her human enough so that each right move she makes isn’t easy for her either.
Share your struggles with creating sympathetic characters.