Writing Characters Your Reader Won’t Forget

For any novel to truly connect with readers, the author needs to pay close attention to character development. Even if you’re writing an action-packed, plot-driven book where the characters are robots, it’s the human element that will resonate with readers.

Say you’re choosing between two books for your next read. The first recounts a voyage to a newly discovered planet. The second stars a lifelong space traveler on a journey to a faraway world. He was born on the ship and he’ll die there, never setting foot on Earth and never reaching the planet for which he’s charted his course. Once the ship lands, it’ll be his children who get to alight on that new ground — not him.

These two books share the basic concept of space travel, which might intrigue you from the get-go. But in the second one, you catch a glimpse of a protagonist juggling an intriguing set of practical and psychological issues: someone whose personal journey will grab you. If his character development is handled with subtlety and depth, he could elevate the book from a basic sci-fi release to a genre classic.

This article will show you how to develop a character who will linger in your readers’ minds long after they turn the last page. To write such a character, you’ll need to:

  1. Justify the character’s reason for existence by establishing the character’s story goal and motivation
  2. Make sure the character has both strengths and flaws
  3. Give the character an external and internal conflict. See More . . . 
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