Reading Writer Observation #8–Make Me Care!


I had a hard time getting through the last book I read. Although the writing was dry, it was smooth. Sometimes there was quite a bit of detail, but I didn’t think that was the problem. Finally (because I’m slow) I determined that I didn’t care about the characters.

Of course, this made me wonder: how does a writer create characters that a reader will care about?

Since this is a reading writer’s observation, let me tell you some things I’ve noticed.

Some writers tell you about their characters. They tell us that Jane is  kind and vibrant and very smart. But we never actually see that Jane is any of those things because it’s the author telling us that this is the way Jane is.

What would be better is to put your characters into a situation that shows who they are. Show us a situation in which Jane is kind.


Make your characters vulnerable. We all have them. These quirky little (trademark, if you will) vulnerabilities that make us human. Maybe it’s something we fear someone else seeing because maybe someone did once and they belittled us. Put that vulnerability out there so we feel for the character.

Multi-faceted. Ever read books in which it’s all about the characters’ angst 24/7? While angst and melodrama can make for some decent reading, change up the story. If you show the tender moments and the funny moments, I can almost guarantee that your reader will feel the angst a lot more when they’re reading it. I know that after I’ve laughed with characters, the downs feel a lot more intense.

What makes you care about the characters you’re reading about?




What Makes Readers Care about Your Characters?

How to Make Readers Deeply Connect to Your Characters

Bring Empathy to Your Characters

6 thoughts on “Reading Writer Observation #8–Make Me Care!

  1. This is very helpful to us writers out there. Character development and description is so important. I just read a book called Maybe in Another Life and the concept was interesting but the book sucked solely because I didn’t care about any of the characters!

    1. It is disappointing when you don’t care about the characters. Sometimes that will be a DNF for me. The good thing is though that it’s made me think about it now with my own writing and think about how to make characters more charismatic.

      1. I can’t tell you the amount I’ve learned in the past year just from carefully/observationally reading. I know that my writing has improved–and not just the writing, but hopefully my understanding of plotting and characterization.
        This is why I can’t understand writers who don’t read voraciously. (I feel a little too fervently about this topic. 🙂 )

      2. No you’re completely right! As a writer you have to read because you truly learn so much. Not to mention all the inspiration! If it wasn’t for reading, I would have never discovered my passion for writing. I definitely can’t understand writers who don’t read either.

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