I love to read. I’ve been an avid reader since age 4. I enjoy reading different genres, but one element I require in the books I like is lifelike characters, the kind that jump off the page and either make you love them or hate them. The important thing is the characters have to make me feel something for them. If not, I don’t enjoy the book. I like a good plot, but it’s more important to me to have interesting, convincing characters.
How does an author create credible, three-dimensional characters? By showing the characters’ feelings through actions and natural dialogue. By creating real, flawed fictional people, not cookie-cutter, perfect ones. I want the people I read about to laugh, cry, bleed—to act like real people. In real life, people aren’t perfect. They do stupid things. They hurt each other. I want to believe the characters are real and suffering as well as celebrating.
Making character charts and creating backgrounds for characters can help shape them into real people with believable motivations. Authors need to know their characters well so they can bring them to life. I’ve even assigned Sun signs to characters to get an idea of their personalities. Sometimes I create characters based on people I have known. Stories are so much better when the characters stand out. For me, character development is the most important part of a story.
Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author