Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Your Characters: Are They Engaging Enough?

 I have finally finished reading the entire first draft of my manuscript. Hooray . . . I think? There's only one problem. I'm not bonding with my characters in the way I thought I would (they sounded so good in my head)!

When you have read through some of your work have you ever found a disconnect between the wonderful character you envision in your head and what is actually written on the page?

After reading my first draft I'm actually annoyed with some of my characters, particularly my lead character.  I don't know what it is about her. Perhaps she's too naive, perhaps her thoughts don't flow logically enough, or perhaps she's just a downright bimbo, but she's certainly not someone I as the reader would want to follow throughout the span of an entire novel. I know this character can be more . . . much more.

So how do you even begin to make your characters jump off of the page? Consider some of these ideas:
  1. Does my Lead character have likeable qualities?
  2. Is my Lead someone a reader can relate to?
  3. Is my villain the stereotypical 'bad guy' or do they possess some sympathetic qualities and/or good points?
  4. Is the thought progression of my characters logical throughout my novel (or piece of work)?
  5. What are my characters' (particularly my lead character's) personal conflicts?
Are there any other suggestions you can provide to deepen characters? All comments are welcome!

Exercise: Take a moment to look at the bad guy(s) in your piece of writing. Can you add a good quality to him/her to make them more believeable?


  1. I tend to write very formal first drafts, and it can be tough for me to make dialog and internal monologues feel natural. It is so poetic in my head, then I read it back later and I can't figure why I made the choices I did.

    I'm actually going back through a draft of something now and am amazed at how stilted everything is.

    Yeah, I don't have much advice, just observations.

    1. Hi Rusty. I hear ya. It's hard not to get discouraged when the first draft isn't what you want it to be ... but that's why it's a first draft I guess! I'm about to do the re-write of my first draft right now.

  2. I am just venturing into this world....still so timid!! I enjoyed reading your post. so many new things to consider!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

  3. My lead bad guy starts out with good intentions, but descends into madness and all good qualities fade away as the story progresses.

    Uh oh. I see your Word Verification (WV) is still on. I'm on a mission to rid the world of this unnecessary evil frustration! Please stop by my blog and select the How To Turn Off Your Word Verification tab and help make the world a better place one blog at a time.

    1. Thanks for letting me know. I'll check it out!