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What's New > What Makes You Want To Read More About A Character

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message 1: by James (new)

James Campbell (jamesccamp) | 6 comments For me, the thing that makes characters the most memorable is when they have flaws that they can't see – when you see them stumble through situations and realize why they're doing it even though they may be powerless to stop it.

I find it very boring when characters are preternaturally self-aware, because how many people really are? When characters are like that all I feel is the intrusion of the author and it sort of turns me off.


message 2: by Erren (new)

Erren Wolf (errengreywolf) | 35 comments Characters are the most important elements in a story. Some come from a piece of your subconscious, others come from pieces of your friends, and others just seem to EXIST of their own accord. My main characters just seem real to me. Perhaps too real. Once, I got it into my head that one of the characters was real and I went to Ireland to try to find him. Of course, he wasn't there. What a crazy thing to do, eh?


message 3: by September (new)

September Lynn (SeptemberLynnGray) | 22 comments I like characters that are flawed, yet still sympathetic. In real life, we all have good and bad in us, so showing more than one side to a character makes them more realistic and interesting.


message 4: by Duane (last edited Dec 26, 2012 05:30AM) (new)

Duane Simolke (duanesimolke) I agree that flaws make characters interesting, and I think it's because the flaws help us relate to them. Also, without flaws, there's less chance of conflict. Stories need conflict.

A character with a sense of humor or an unusual way of looking at life catches my attention. If the character is also serving as a narrator and tells the story in an engaging way, that grabs my attention.


Writers fall in love with their characters and want to find out what happens to them next by writing more about them, in that novel and possibly a sequel or two.

However, as a reader, I usually won't bother with all the books in a long series, even if I like the characters. I have too many other books to read.

Duane Simolke


message 5: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 80 comments I agree with so many of the posts on here about those little human weaknesses and quirks. I never feel anxious to find out more about cardboard heroes (of both sexes). I don't think an author should be afraid to make a character make a fool of her/himself either, it happens to people in real life, so why shouldn't it happen to them in fiction? Finally, I love a character who can laugh at her or himself more than anything, and I love a woman character who makes the jokes rather than taking them and pouting and sulking...


message 6: by James (new)

James Campbell (jamesccamp) | 6 comments Lucinda wrote: "I agree with so many of the posts on here about those little human weaknesses and quirks. I never feel anxious to find out more about cardboard heroes (of both sexes). I don't think an author shoul..."

Maybe you'd be amazed at how many authors just can't stand to write a main character who isn't a paragon of virtue and simply has the big bad world dump on him/her, and the number of readers who can't stand virtuous characters. Browse around on here or Amazon and look at how many bad reviews say something like 'the main character was such a jerk, therefore this is a bad book.'

Well, but I guess there are just different markets for different types of books.


message 7: by Lucinda (last edited Dec 27, 2012 09:22AM) (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 80 comments Lol, James, some breakdowns of communication between supply and demand there, then... Mary Sue's (is that the term?) are dull too, and I wanted to ask, what's the male equivalent of a 'Mary Sue'? It's interesting because in Elizabeth Gaskell's 'Sylvia's Lovers' (very well written)the character Kinraid is successful at everything, handsome, brave, clever, effective, a brilliant Specksioneer who becomes a war Naval hero and Captain - his only weakness is the macho one of womanising - and I couldn't stand the man, I read on partly because I found him so irritating I hoped he would get his come uppance and maybe suffer from one bout of seasickness or fall over his shoelaces just once... He doesn't, he finds an heiress to marry, but I did read on, which is intriguing...


message 8: by Wanda (new)

Wanda Porter | 19 comments I love a character with a "You can't make me" "I'm going to do it" attitude. Of course, this makes for lots of story problems.


message 9: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 133 comments James made an interesting comment about characters that seem too self-aware. I agree with him as it is often the way an author inserts sermonizing and other things that slow a read down... unless that is a part of the story, as in Gone Girl, etc. Then it works.

I also appreciate Wanda's comment on characters who lead with their chins, no matter what, especially if getting knocked down from time to time doesn't teach 'em much!I read a book by Ruby Barnes recently, Peril, whose MC is one of those and it endeared me to him despite his being a certifiable idiot.

One of the things that make most characters accessible, is an honest, conversational writing voice in accessible language, appropriate tot he setting, etc, so that we can crawl inside the character with the least discomfort.


message 10: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Luhrs (cynthialuhrsauthor) I like my characters flawed and I like those with issues following the rules - they are more interesting to me and keep me turning pages. The perfect, beautiful character does nothing for me.


message 11: by James (last edited Jan 04, 2013 07:49AM) (new)

James Campbell (jamesccamp) | 6 comments EDIT:

I was so tired last night that I just posted a vague response; thought I'd come back to write something more interesting, but then realized I'd just be repeating myself.

I can't win today, it seems ;)


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I like flawed characters as well, and I really like a character who has something that they have to overcome -- especially if it has to do with growing as a person. Reading about a character who has a bad past is always interesting too, because then you get to see how they come away from it. I also like it when characters are a bit rough, or have complex personality flaws, especially when these flaws make them mysterious, or a bit rude.


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