5 Tips for Writing Great Characters

There are billions of books in the world and self-publishing authors need to make sure their books stand out to readers.

Characters are the heart and soul of your story. They are the vehicle that allows your reader to experience the plot and setting surrounding your character. Having characters that readers connect to can be the difference between a fan favorite and a flop. Here are 5 tips for creating characters your readers will connect with.

1. Characters Should Exist Outside the Story

Even though a reader’s only experience with your character will be inside the pages of your story it is important for a character to feel like they have a full complex life when they aren’t on the stage of the page.

Characters should have likes, dislikes, friendships, and a background story that isn’t limited to their role in your current story. A reader should feel like they are stepping into a character’s story and not that the character’s story began when they opened the pages.

2. Characters Should Have Relationships

If your characters feel flat try adding a best friend or a family member the character is close to. Have them interact in scenes that aren’t focused on moving the plot forward or showing off an amazing setting. Those things can happen in the scene as well but giving the character time to present their personality while interacting with someone they have known all their lives and will continue to know once the pages are closed will help the reader relate to them.

Additionally, seeing other characters positively interact with the main character can help to recommend that character to the reader. Instead of telling how kind your protagonist is have them be kind to a friend or have a friend comment on something they did that exemplifies the traits you want to show.

3. Characters Aren’t Perfect

Your character should have a few negative traits. Maybe they are impulsive. Maybe they get angry easily. Maybe they are too trusting. Whatever the negative traits you give your character show the readers how those traits create roadblocks for the character to overcome. This allows for a complex character arc that will keep readers invested.

4. Make Your Characters Active

Sometimes a plot requires things to happen to a character but it is always best for the character to make decisions that lead to the next plot point or event in the story. A character who doesn’t wait idly for things to happen to them will be a champion readers want to root for.

5. Avoid or Subvert Stereotypes

Readers get tired of reading about characters who are all the same. Stereotypes might be okay for a walk-on character but they aren’t okay for a protagonist and they make a weak antagonist.

People are complex. No one fits neatly into stereotypes. A “jock” can be an honor student. A “geek” can like sports. A cheerleader can like the bookstore as much as the make-up counter.

A pretty woman representing complex characters in stories

The more you can break stereotypes and show your character as well-rounded, the easier it will be for readers to connect to the character, and the more that character will stand out in their memory once the story is finished.

Once you’ve brought your amazing characters to life on the page, InstantPublisher will help you turn those pages into a printed book. InstantPublisher offers a variety of self-publishing services including interior book formatting, ghostwriting services, custom illustrations, and cover design. To learn more visit our website or call 1 800 259 2592.

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