You know Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, and Bella Swan - these aren’t just names, they’re characters whose secrets you know, desires you understand, and whose fears you wish you could quell. Characters so alive, you’ve fallen in love with them.
Why does this happen?
Not by accident.
These characters are carefully crafted so their actions, dialogue and choices show (yes, show) how they think and what they believe. Crafted to make their flaws stand out, their secrets weigh heavy, to allow their fears to be exploited.
As my character’s life unfolds, my goal is to make it easy for the reader to get caught up in the character’s actions and words. If I do it right, I can facilitate an internal dialogue where the reader reacts emotionally and wants to tell my character not to make that choice or say those words. Where the readers wants to send warnings, because they care about what is happening the character.
Of course my character will make the wrong choice or say the wrong thing, they have to. The reader can’t change what will happen, but they will love my character more for making mistakes, for being human.
Ultimately, I want my reader to cry when my character pays the price for their mistakes, and laugh and cheer them on when they grow and change. Most of all, I want to make reader believe in my character.
Once a reader believes a character can save the world, fight evil wizards, or love a vampire, you've succeeded in creating a compelling character.