She feels real to you. You dream about her, know you could pick her out in a crowd, even love most things about her. But the main character–actually, ALL the characters in your book–must feel real to the reader. Here are a few hints to help you achieve this goal.
1. Consider all the emotions real people feel and allow your character to feel that range of emotions.
2. Remember that character should drive the plot. That means your character’s emotional decisions can help move the story forward, too. You and I might act differently at a bank robbery. How would your character act?
3. If your character is in a certain situation, imagine how you would feel and let the reader see that. If you are connected to the character, you can imagine what she’s going through. In original ways, let us see the heart of your character.
4. Dig deeper than ‘I felt sad, baby.’ Sad can be monitored on a scale. You can be sad so that a Mars Almond Bar picks you up and you can be so sad you feel God has lost faith in you. This depth of feeling makes emotion ring true.
5. A human isn’t perfect, so that means your character must have flaws. She can’t be too good or too bad.
6. Simple reactions can help a reader understand a little more about your character. She’s afraid of dogs? Maybe that means she skips the dog clips on Facebook. She’s missing her dad who is overseas serving as a spy in a foreign government? Maybe a certain smell reminds her of him and makes her weep–but not where others will see her.
7. Beware cliche. I know, I know. No one understands pain like a teen. Or even like you. But many times the emotion becomes lackluster. Find new ways to say things.
There! I’ve been writing for about 12 minutes and I’m putting a time limit on these blogs so I can get to the two books I wanted to finish last month.
Remember what we have said lots of times, Good Writing is in the Detail. Make your story completely yours by writing lines that will take our breath away, make us laugh, make us cry. When your reader connects emotionally to a book, you have a reader for life. And that’s a great thing.