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Indie Authors: 4 Ways to Write Effective Characters

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Authors need to give equal amount of energy in character development as they do crafting a flawless plot. Sure, the storyline drives your story and keeps the reader wondering what’s going to happen next. But let’s face it… if the reader doesn’t connect or care about the characters, all that hard work isn’t going to make a difference.

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Here are a few writing tips for creating characters that readers will care about:

  1. Find Inspiration. Sometimes the most interesting ideas for characters are right there in your own life. Got a crazy uncle? A caring, yet overprotective grandmother? Using people like this is a solid way to ensure your characters are realistic. In my books A Ghost in the Attic (AGITA) and Feasters: An Apocalyptic Tale, I pulled from characters from different times of my life. For example, in AGITA, I had a music teacher in elementary school that I absolutely loved. So, to pay tribute to her, I used her as inspiration for one of my characters.

  2. Dynamic Characters. Readers want to see characters overcome obstacles and grow from their experiences. We all want to root for the underdog and see the person they transform into. So, when writing characters, it’s important to put them into situations where the audience can see how they react and grow from it.

  3. Characters To Love (or Hate). As I stated in the introduction, all the plotting the world isn’t going to matter if the reader doesn’t care about the characters. I firmly believe this is done in two ways: inner and outer dialogue. With inner dialogue, the conversations the character has in his/her mind, the reader can understand the motivation of the protagonist. The opposite of this, but still equally important, is understanding what drives the antagonist as well. It’s okay to hate a character as much as you love them. The second way to develop characters that the reader loves or hates is to create realistic and relatable conversations. This connection helps the reader to visualize scenes and conversations, and dare I say, picture themselves in them as well.

  4. Flawed Characters. I believe that readers look for characters they can relate to. What better way to do that than to give your characters flaws and insecurities? When reading about a character who may be going through something emotional like coming out to their parents, the reader becomes invested in this character. There is nothing more exciting than cheering on a character who has to overcome obstacles.

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Although writing effective characters is just one part of the puzzle, it’s the one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Readers have to be motivated to care for them, root for them, and even hate them. All the plotting in the world won’t matter if your audience isn’t invested in your characters.

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