Guest Post: Characters are Key

Today’s post was originally a comment on my blog by ParkerXL, but I thought he made some good points and it deserved a post of its own. Thanks, Parker!

I’ve long held the belief that characters are the true driving force of stories. Many disagree with me, but I think its true.

We’ve come to the point now as writers and readers where every story has been re-written and re-told; there are only new characters.

All stories are driven by life itself, whether you choose to tell that story in a historical setting or on another non-existent planet, the story is still based around the lives of people.

It is the people in your real life that make your life what it is. As it will be the characters in your book that make your story what it is.

It happens in film too. There are people who have never seen Gone with the Wind, but they know who Rhett Butler is. There are people who have never seen Star Wars, but they know who Darth Vader is.

When you read a book, finish it, and miss the characters after you finish the last page, you know you’re getting the next one. But you couldn’t really turn around and give me a detailed run-down of the plot you just read without glossing over it, could you? Yet you know the characters like they are close relatives, or even an extension of yourself.

The key to making people love your book is to put in it characters that feel so real, the reader imagines one of these three things:

1) That character being so much like the reader that they feel they share much of the same characteristics, and are essentially the same person.

2) The reader knows or is related to someone exactly like the character.

3) That the character could be out there somewhere, in the real world. one day they might cross the reader in the street, brush shoulders, give a quick smile, and then they’ll be gone.

Great Books = Great Stories = Great Lives Life = Great People = Great Characters.

I welcome guest posts! If you have something you’d like to write about for my blog, contact holly -at- hollywest.com and we’ll discusss it.

Holly West

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