5 ways to write characters readers can relate to

There is little more satisfying than reading a book, and feeling a connection with the characters. Being able to relate to people in fiction has a very real impact, and creates a lasting effect. As I continue with my NaNoWriMo project, I’m sharing the five ways I’m writing relatable characters. Be sure to share your own tips at the end!

Have flaws and failings
As humans, we are prone to being too harsh on ourselves. And as such, we may focus too much time on our flaws and failings. As such, it is hard to relate to characters who live perfect lives, with perfect personalities and perfect outcomes. All characters, even the heroes, should have flaws. Their imperfections are what make them human. It is also important to show your characters failing. It is another inevitability of life. And what’s important is showing the way the characters react and respond to these failures. That’s what creates a story.

Create real world worries
Even if your story is the wildest fantasy, your characters should have real world worries and motives. In realism and fantasy alike, character problems come from a very human place. Be it grief, desire for revenge, attempts to find love, to find safety, to gain power, to save somebody or to save themselves, it is these wants and worries that make your characters real to the reader.

Be honest about emotions
It can be hard to be honest about emotions, especially our own. Writing them into a story can feel like ripping open an old wound. And yet, this is one of the reasons writing makes such a great outlet. Pouring your emotions into your work can really resonate with people, and even help them come to terms with these emotions themselves.

Avoid clichés and stereotypes
Everybody is different, and yet the same character can relate to people from many different backgrounds. As such, you rarely need to mould characters into a stereotype to connect with readers. If anything, using clichés and stereotypes can limit your character growth and reader interest. It can cause offence, or simply make the character dull and predictable.

Watch them struggle…and win
Life is full of trials and triumphs. Character struggles often mirror our own, keeping reader interest hooked. But, as well as struggles, your characters should have wins. These may be small or big, and can come at different points throughout the novel. This way the tension and momentum can rise and fall, setting a readable and relatable pace.

Share your tips for relatable characters below!

Until then,
Keep writing,

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9 thoughts on “5 ways to write characters readers can relate to”

  1. Michelle, reading your post made me think of two things. First, my daughter and I were discussing novel “Emma,” by Jane Austen the other day. I had not read the book (but she had), but watched the latest movie with the same title. I asked her if we were supposed to pull for Emma, as she really did some rude things and was not very endearing. She told me that Austen said she wrote a character only she could like.

    Second, I think of one of my favorite characters in literature, Scout from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Harper Lee brilliantly told the story through her learning and imperfect eyes. Scout was a Tom-girl who fought, but she had a big heart, as well. She knew what injustice looked like.


    Liked by 1 person

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