Recently I was reading a fantasy tale and just could not connect with the character. I tried. After all, I love fantasy. But there just wasn’t any attraction. About four chapters in it hit me. The character wasn’t specifically unlikable. The problem was that he wasn’t interesting. Here are three tips to create interesting characters.
Interesting Characters Have to Do Something
Whether or not your character is good or bad, to be really and truly interesting they have to be active. This generally isn’t a problem when a story is plot driven but it is a different story when a piece is character driven. All to often the character spends a great deal of time in her head or talking to someone. SNORE. To hold your reader’s attention, your character needs to do, working toward a goal whether that goal is figuring out an unsolvable puzzle or winning a race.
Interesting Characters Have Pasts
To be really and truly interesting, your character needs to have a past. Their past is what drives them and fuels their need to meet that goal. This doesn’t mean that you have to reveal it all to the reader in a great-big info dump, but you need to know what it is because the past shapes the present. As choices and actions are driven forward by what went before, you can reveal bits and pieces of it as needed.
Interesting Characters Aren’t All Good or All Bad
Another way to lose reader interest is to create a character who is always good. No matter what the antagonist throws in her path, she is good and kind and sweet and . . . ugh. saccharine. The same is true of a character who is unrelentingly evil. These kinds of characters just aren’t realistic so they don’t hold the reader’s attention. Instead you need to create a good person who has a flaw or a bad person who has a redeeming quality. These characters will then by more like real people and better able to hold the reader’s attention.
Runner, robber, regent, or robber, the biggest crime your character can commit is to bore your reader.