Thanks to Elana Johnson, Jennifer Daiker, and Alex Cavanaugh for hosting The Great Blogging Experiment. The subject for the day, which everyone who has signed up for the experiment will write about, is "How To Write Compelling Characters."
What qualities make characters effective? Irrisistible? Compelling? Well, think about your favorite characters....what makes you cheer for them? Become invested in their lives and stories? It's their flaws, right?
Interesting characters aren't perfect. They make mistakes. They learn from them. They're vulnerable. They're needy. Often they're brave and determined to overcome. They're human.
Even though it sounds simple, it's not always easy to do. It's tempting to write the undefeated hero, or the indestructible heroine. But that's boring. There's nothing at stake. No room for conflict.
Satisfying characters allow us a glimpse into ourselves, help us see ways we can be better. They give us ways to try on lives we would otherwise never experience. We want to see people with our own flaws and doubts succeed despite their weaknesses.
So my ...ahem...sage advice for writing compelling characters is to give them imperfections and personal challenges to overcome. Put them through the ringer and see how they react. Make them mess up and have to fix it and learn from it.
Perfection is boring. Make your characters messy!