Writing Tip #27

Create relatable characters.  This week, I read a blog post by Janice Hardy (which actually referenced another post by Juliette Wade) about whether it’s more important for your characters to be likable or relatable. If I were to choose one (I could argue that the two are intertwined), I would agree with the consensus, that it’s more important for your characters to be relatable, because “relatability” is a more complex, deeper connection that allows readers to bring in their selves, their life experiences, and read the book on a visceral level.

Relatable characters are powerful weapons. Probably one of the funnest things I do as a thriller writer is to create bad people who are relatable and cause the reader to feel conflicted about liking them or perhaps just caring about what happens to them. When you create relatable characters, you are able to tap into those truthful, human characteristics and moments that we all share — the protection of family, the pursuit of a goal, the internal struggle to do what’s right.

Likable characters, to me, are like beautiful paintings — we admire them and appreciate them.

Relatable characters are like mirrors. If we look closely enough, we see ourselves.


2 thoughts on “Writing Tip #27

  1. MUCH prefer it when you can relate – at least a little – to the villain as well as to the hero/heroine. It makes for a much more interesting read – two dimensional villains belong in the panto accompanied by boos and hisses. My best friend and I often reflect on the Baroness in the Sound of Music – when we were young we thought she was the baddy, but as we get older we find ourselves identifying with her more and more. You still want Captain Von Trapp and Maria to get together, but the added admiration/pathos for the Baroness’ dignity makes the film.

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