Creating Relatable Fictional Characters—A How-To Guide
When it comes to creating a memorable, three-dimensional character, you can’t always depend on character tropes and ideas to move the story along!
An intimate connection, some emotional flaws, creative imagery, and profound thoughts—there is so much your character requires to connect with the reader through the page. But how do you accomplish such an idea without making your character seem… unbelievable?
Here is what I did for my books!
How to Make Your Characters Relatable
Give Them a Flaw
Read any popular book, and the most common flaws that the main characters have is that they are clumsy or self-deprecating. And those are not legitimate flaws. Instead, take the example of Rachel’s character from The Girl on the Train.
A significant flaw of her character is that she is a raging alcoholic, a problem she is struggling with. But she moves through it, the reader rooting for her. She overcomes that addiction and finally triumphs. That is a flaw that people can associate with, something genuinely troubling they can’t get rid of.
Give Them Hard Choices
Your character is determined by your choices. And no one knows it better than Harry Potter. The boy who lived made plenty of choices and sacrifices. He lost the people he loved, the people he cherished, and even lost his innocence because of a genocidal madman. And though your average reader does not—thankfully!—have to follow the same life, for plenty of us, even smaller decisions can sometimes seem as intense.
Give them Bravery
Katniss Everdeen is an excellent example of someone who did not quit. An unsinkable character—someone who suffers but still strives for a better life, gives people the courage to do the same for their life. Their determination and bravery make them a charming character and make people connect to them because of their bravery.
Give Them Pain
In my fiction and fantasy books trilogy, The Black Shade of White, the prologue begins with the main character suffering from tight metal bands bound around her body. She is tied and hurt. The metal chains are not giving way, and she is bleeding as her emotions get the better of her. She feels the suffering in her heart as waves of anger threaten to overwhelm her.
When the main character suffers, we feel. The reader is captivated by the main character’s pain and how they associate the character’s pain to theirs. Make that connection.
Give Them a Goal
That is what The Black Shade of White is based on. A shared goal, something the main character wants desperately. And this yearning is what allows readers to connect to her. It is this innermost desire that makes you want to set sail across the world. Set a primary goal, no matter how big or small, and allow your readers to see themselves in the book.
It is all about making the main character more human. Use that as your guide. Do what you allow the reader to immerse themselves within the story!