Writing Advice

Secrets of Best-Selling Books: Part II

In my last blog post we left off with building life-like characters that readers will relate with. So, what makes a character real?

So many things. You have to start with someone who has both an inner and an exterior struggle. Readers relate with normal people with real problems. If you make your hero/heroine perfect, then you’ll be cheating your reader of a realistic experience. And also a chance at seeing a fictional character’s growth as a human.

Realistic experience? Growth? But isn’t this fiction?

True. But readers want to connect with a real person. How can they connect with someone who’s perfect? Give your protagonists & antagonists real problems: insecurity, physical weakness, etc. and watch how they gain legitimacy in your fiction and in your reader’s mind. But make sure you don’t go overboard. No reader wants to read about a total wimp.

The best way to build realistic characters is through your past experiences. I look back and have a wealth of experiences, good and bad. And trust me you’ll get a lot of good material from the bad experiences, why? Because life itself is a struggle. And the bad experiences reinforce that universal truth.

The last thing to remember about building special characters is to make them likeable. In all my stories I try and make both the protagonists and antagonists likeable. How? Easy. Give them goals and have them fight like hell to accomplish them. No reader wants to invest their time reading about cardboard-cutout people who are as exciting as pond scum.

So there you have it. Characters that people will love to read about. If you focus on this aspect of fiction, sooner or later you’ll be writing books that are not only sellable, but profitable.

What are some fictional characters that stand out in your mind? What made them so special? And why do you think you remember them still?


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