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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.
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
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.
Requirements for the Protagonist
The protagonist (hero) has three additional requirements.
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!
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.
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
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