I recently finished reading a novel that wasn't terrible, but I never really got into it because I just didn't care about any of the characters. Not one.
If you want readers to become invested in your writing, they must become invested in your characters. I'm not suggesting that all your characters need to be charming, or even particularly nice, and I'm certainly not suggesting that you can't have villains. But there has to be something in at least one of your characters that your fans want to root for. Otherwise, what's the point? This is just my opinion as a reader, of course. But I'm also a bestselling author, and the countless e-mails I've received from loyal fans telling me how much they care about the protagonist of my novels proves I'm on to something. And believe me, my heroine is far from perfect.
Give your readers characters worth caring about!
In the book I just finished reading, every character - save for a fringe one who was only 10 years old - was extremely unlikable. The two main characters in particular were dreadful. From the first page of the book, I didn't like them. I kept reading, thinking maybe one of them would demonstrate a side of their personality that would change my mind, prove me wrong, or perhaps offer a clue from their past to explain their present behavior. But that never happened. Instead, they kept annoying me, and I didn't like them the entire way through the novel. Then at the end, when they were both murdered, I just didn't care.
Characters flaws make for great characters. However, great characters also use their flaws to draw in readers.
Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
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