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When readers relate to authors’ characters

15 Oct
Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Dana Bowman, the main character in my Beyond mystery series is making herself known.

Another author who read Beyond Blood compared Dana’s situation as the mother of a lost son to a non-fiction book dealing with a mother losing her son. Mind you, David, Dana’s son is lost in the sense that he is kidnapped. But both mothers suffer anguish and go through much emotional turmoil.

Others have picked out Dana’s offbeat sense of humour and being a likeable character.

All indications that readers are identifying with Dana.

Getting readers to identify with your novel’s characters – main character in particular, but also the other characters is one of the challenges for writers. But no matter what the fiction genre readers want more than just a good plot – they want to connect with your characters. Perhaps the daytime soap operas or the old night time TV soaps started this. However, even other TV series, police, etc. have a running thread for each character.

If readers can’t identify with your characters, you will lose them. They won’t enjoy your book as much or at all and may give up on it.

So what makes fiction characters compelling?

Liking the character isn’t absolutely necessary, but remember that most people are not all good or all bad. And even so-called good characters can come across as somewhat off. Maybe they are too good-two shoes. Maybe they are too superficial. The dreaded wooden characters.

So, in a nutshell, you have to make your characters compelling – by making them three dimensional – with dialogue, their inner thoughts, and their actions. You need to compel the reader to get under the character’s skin and if not emphasize with them, at least be with them.

Besides your novel’s characters getting a mention from readers, another good sign of compelling characters ix when readers read they want to find out what happens to the main character because they care. When they sense something terrible is going to happen to a character they keep reading, hoping both that it won’t happen and that it will. And when it does, they feel right with the character and read on to see if the character can come through the situation.

Of course, some of this is plot. But these days you really can’t have one without the other.

Besides my Beyond books, read fiction by Peter Robinson, Rosemary McCracken, Rosemary Aubert and Maureen Jennings to name a few.

And happy reading.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Click on the Beyond Blood cover at the top to find out where copies are available;

And check my updated Gigs and Blog Tours for a presentation with other Crime Writers of Canada authors on October 22, 2015

 

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