Are Your Characters Boring?

By on July 28, 2017
Are Your Characters Boring? - Writer's

One thing that is sure to kill your book is having characters that are boring. No matter how exciting and intriguing your premise, no matter how well thought out and beautifully written your plot, if you characters aren’t full of life, aren’t exciting, unpredictable, courageous, outrageous beasts, then it doesn’t matter what else you do, your readers simply won’t be able to engage.

Making characters interesting is harder than one might think. There is a difficult balance that all writers must try to strike. That is - making your characters realistic, but also making them exceptional.

Let’s face it, most of us happily plod through our lives, doing boring, mundane things. Dusting, walking the dog, grocery shopping and so on. Sure there are big, thrilling moments, sure there are times when things go drastically wrong, or we laugh our socks off, or we have a wild night where we just go with it and end up doing things we never expected to do, but the day to day - it’s not exactly page turning stuff right?

Characters need to be ‘larger than life’ but they also need to be relatable. If you create every character as a grotesque exaggeration of a personality type, your reader will find it difficult to connect. But if you don’t give each of your characters some sort of hook, some sense of intrigue, this can have an equally negative effect.

Of course, we can write characters that are purposefully boring in our books, ones that our hero finds unbearably dull - that’s OK and is a good opportunity to bring humour into your story. But if your main characters don’t leave an impression, you're making your book hard work for your readers.

So what are the things that you can do to ensure your characters excite your readers?

Characters must have motivation

A motivated character has a sense of purpose, readers can identify that purpose, and can root for the character to achieve it (or not). The purpose of a protagonist is what your story should revolve around. What is their goal? How will they get there? Getting your readers to invest in their goals will help them want to keep reading.

Characters must have conflict

Every good character has obstacles they must face, these can be actual physical obstacles, or they can be emotional ones. Inner turmoil about making an important decision can be just as effective as battling it out against a baddie. Creating conflict and allowing your readers to see their struggle can be very powerful indeed.

Characters must have emotion

Readers want to know how your characters feel, and creating emotion in your characters is a great way of getting your reader to feel emotionally bonded to them. If you reader cares about your characters, your book becomes something more than just a book - they are invested, they are involved. Characters should feel a range of emotions, and your readers should be happy with them when things go well, and sad, angry, frightened with them, when they feel that way too. Take your readers on the journey with your characters, have them feel what your characters feel. If you can capture emotion brilliantly, you’ll make your readers care, and then you’ve pretty much won the battle.

Creating engaging, exciting. interesting characters is crucial to any story. So follow the tips above and make sure that your characters don’t bore your readers - if you don’t, you simply can’t expect them to care about your book.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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