Amy Walker is a stay at home mom who loves to read. When she is not reading fairy tales to her two small children, Amy dives head first into any book the local library has to offer. Reading is how she winds down after a long day with twin toddlers. She finds most novels are hit or miss, and loves when she picks up a novel by a local author that is not so well developed and then opens a new novel (a second chance) by the same author years down the line to learn that they have found their groove! When asked what her favorite authors were she listed Stephanie Myers, J.K. Rowling, and others of great fame. When asked about indie authors she listed Beatrix Potter (the creator of Peter Rabbit), Hugh Howie (one of ACN’s own top ten with his series Wool), and Andy Weir (you may know his little indie book The Martian).
Amy and M.K.F. discussed at great lengths the things she wished she could tell her favorite authors. One thing kept coming up in their conversation; characters. How readers need to feel them in order for a book to be truly heard. According to Amy if your characters make her cringe, cry, laugh, or flat out burn angry; then you have her as a fan for life.
We fall in love with your characters. So much so that sometimes we will close the pages and daydream about them. If they are written well. As a reader, I don’t need to know how ripped the hero is or how perky the heroines breasts are; what I need is to feel them. Some of the best descriptions in a character come from the emotional bond you build in your characters actions. The way they talk, or how they portray the world you created for them. Do more of that! Make me get mad when the villain attacks, make me cringe at how the main character fumbles through life. Don’t recreate Michelangelo’s David, but if you do make him scarred. Show me the fear and uncertainty that plagues a normal person living in a normal world. Don’t just tell me they didn’t know what to do, bring me into their mind and use your adjectives in a way that I can see their path, how they got to that point. That for me is a how to gain a fan. Always, that is how you’ll get my attention over his six pack abs, and suddenly ability to climb Mt. Rushmore with the damsel in distress in his arms.
Not to name names, but you want a character that I will forever love to hate-let’s name Joffrey from Game of Thrones. I despise that kid; instantly I get angry when I see his name printed on a page. I’ve even been known to growl when he comes up in conversation. That, to me, is a perfect character. And Mr. Martin will forever have a fan in this girl!
How did he do it? How did he create such a villain that readers obsess over? It wasn’t so much in his description of features; taller than Jon Snow and Robb Stark with golden curls and deep green eyes, but in the description of his actions. You watch him grow into a psychopath. Killing animals for fun, torturing his siblings, doing anything on a whim-whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases. Joffrey fascinated, and surprised me in how much I despised him as a character. His actions and verbiage mounted such emotions that before I know it I had whipped through Storm of Swords blowing out a final breath when he did. Relief-I felt relief in a book! And justified, and vindicated, and not one bit guilty that I was happy.
Another example of this is Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. More specific: Katniss in Mocking Jay. She’s suddenly a very scarred heroine. One that we watch battle internal demons as much as she does the Capital. This Katniss is one of my favorites, I can feel for her. My heart breaks for her, my internal struggle is as hard as hers when we read how she feels, or what she is thinking. She is by no means perfect. I believe, forgive me if I’m wrong, but Susanne Collins doesn’t even attempt to physically describe Katniss. She lets you see her through emotions. Even after the war is won, she spends her life battling what is v.s. what once was. My heart melted later, after it was all over and she was petrified to be pregnant. Terrified to feel something growing inside her, and her worry over loosing that child to the games. That is something I carried with me far beyond the chapters.
Dear writer, when you create a character, create them beyond their physical appearance and strength. Not all heroes have to have dashing good looks, or flawless skin. They have to have sustenance, something for us to cling onto. Emotions and thoughts the same as you or I. If you don’t feel it when writing, then your readers certainly aren’t going to connect.
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