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?