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  Creating Fictional Characters That Hook the Reader
By Lonnie Ezell

As readers, we want to get drawn into a novel and pulled along from the first page until the last. As writers, how can we create characters that help us do just that? Read on for some of the top tips to help you bring your fictional characters to life.

What Every Character Should Have

There is one thing that every character should have: a reason to be there. This shows up in two ways.

The first reason is simple. Every character should matter. When you have unnecessary characters in your story, you end up with plot lines and fluff that do nothing to further the story. Instead, it bogs it down, which leaves the reader asking the worst question possible, "Why should I care?" They're already asking that when they pick your book up, so you have to give them a reason to care. By removing some characters, or combining several minor characters into one important character, you increase the impact and drama in your book.

Second, and one of the most important aspects of a good novel: every character should have realistic goals that we can see. While there may occasionally be the bartender who is there just to give directions, something he says or does should give him depth. Don't pass up an opportunity to show the reader something about your world. By taking that cardboard bartender and having him try to stall the hero, then apologize because the antagonist is threatening his daughter, you not only show the reader more about the antagonist and the type of person they are, but you've potentially created another obstacle for the hero to overcome-freeing the daughter.

Special Requirements for the Protagonist

The protagonist (hero) has three additional requirements.

The hero must be likeable.
Your readers are going to spend a lot of time with your hero. While it might be tempting to have a darker character that goes through hell and comes back with a bright and cheery disposition, characters like that require a very deft hand. If you're not very careful with the character he can become too negative and "angsty" that the reader gets turned off, and walks away from your story. Not what you're trying for!

The hero must be relatable.
Every hero should have a personal goal or problem that today's readers can relate to. Depending on the story type, the hero may be faced with obstacles the reader doesn't immediately understand, and that's alright. Especially in stories dealing in different worlds and times. If you keep a personal issue involved, then the reader will be able to hold onto that until they understand the foreign issues. Without something that the reader to latch on to, emotionally, they won't care about what happens to them. And that's not what you want. You want the reader rooting for the hero to succeed.

The hero's problem must matter.
This last requirement goes back to your idea. Without this, your story doesn't matter. Not trying to be rude or tough, but if your main character's problem isn't the most difficult thing to have happened to them up to this point, why should we, as readers, care about it? Make sure your protagonist's problem is as big as possible. It doesn't have to be world-shattering, in the literal sense, but it must be of utmost importance to him.

By following these simple guidelines, you will ensure that you have a firm foundation built into your characters that will make your readers care about who they're reading about. That means they'll keep turning the pages until well after midnight.

Lonnie Ezell (
http://lonnieezell.com) is a fantasy thriller author whose work has been getting high marks from writers like NY Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole and readers like yourself. He has put together a breakthrough online course that teaches you how to write a novel in the simplest, fastest way possible. http://zero2novel.com


Character Creation

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    Novel Writing tips for fiction writers