Fiction,  Writing

How To Make Readers Fall In Love With Your Characters

Creating characters that your readers love can take time. Adding depth should be down in layers, putting more and more in as you work on each revision or draft.  Here are four things that I think writers need to think about when adding this depth to their characters.


What is your character’s motivation?


Yes, I know the joke about actors asking their directors, “What is my  motivation?” is funny – especially for me since I was an actor – but it’s also true!! Trying to figure out what your character wants is super important.  The other part of this equation is what do they need? Which I can guarantee you will be different.  I would ask these questions for both your protagonist and your antagonist….and these are really great questions to add depth to your side characters as well.


What about your character’s flaws?


All humans have flaws.  Even if we don’t want to admit it to anyone else, or ourselves, we have flaws.  We all have things we don’t like about ourselves, but this is what can take your character from flat, two dimensional, and bland to a fully fleshed out three dimensional human that your readers can feel for, can see themselves in, can root for.  


It’s very easy to see these flaws in our antagonist characters, but having them for the protagonist is really going to help you deepen that character and if you can use that character flaw to help you with plot development, you’re going to have a better story overall. For example, if your character always rushes into relationships without thinking, that can definitely help move the plot forward, or give them some conflict that will flare up at the worst possible time.

How does your character see their friends? How do their friends see them?


I picked this technique up when I was analyzing scripts as an actor. We would look at what was said about us onstage by other characters to help develop our own and I’ve carried this over into writing.  It can be helpful to think about how our characters act around each other, are they different around friends and family, at work or school, around people in authority? What is the dynamic between the people in your novel?


Even if you’re writing a single point of view and you’re not writing what others say about your main character, you can still ask them to find out and use this information to help with those character flaws, to help you understand your characters better, to help with dialogue or actions taken by your character.


How does your character feel about their enemies? How do their enemies feel about them?


This is the reverse of the other question, but why do they have enemies? No one gets along with everyone, so that’s fine, but ask why they don’t get along with certain people…is it warranted? Does your protagonist see the antagonist as their enemy?  


Using Tarot Cards 


If you know me, I use Tarot cards to help create my characters, but I also use them to help deepen my knowledge of my characters and answer these questions as I continue to write and edit my novels.  How? There are a few ways.


One, grab the card you used to create your character originally and talk to that persona, asking them the questions above interview style OR journaling as if you are them so you can gather information and answers. 


You don’t have to use Tarot for this, you can use images from PInterest or the web or just think about your characters in your mind. If you would like to use Tarot and you didn’t create your character this way, grab your favorite deck and choose a card right now – that’s totally cool!


Another way I like to do this is to use the above questions as a Tarot spread.  Grab your favorite deck, shuffle the cards and lay out 1-2 cards per question above for each character. This is a really fun way, although it will take you a while depending on how many characters you need to do this process with.  Have your journal or film yourself and start talking through all the ideas, write down everything and anything you can think of, and use what works and throw out what doesn’t.  


Remember this takes time. You’re not gonna get your character right on the first draft and that’s okay, that’s normal.  I love to do this kind of work in between drafts, when I’m not quite ready to work on the actual writing, but I don’t not want to work on the writing – you feel me? It can help you get back into the setting and storyline of your book when you’ve been away, taking a break in between drafts, so you are back in the mood to jump right in with your characters and start editing. 


If you haven’t taken my free training – Novel Narrator, where I walk you through the process of using Tarot to create your book’s characters in 30 minutes or less, download that here.  


Let me know, which question above was the most fun to ask your character?