Everyone has a favorite character, a hero or heroine who makes us re-read a book over and over again. Though a well-crafted plot is essential to a good book, the characters can make or break a novel. As humans, we are hardwired to seek out connections with other human beings. Books give us an opportunity to connect using our imaginations.
Who is your favorite character? Do you admire the humble heroism of Harry Potter? Or, are you drawn to a bold, brash, fearless hero? For those of us who like to identify with our favorite characters, we might see our own shyness mirrored in Bella Swan from Twilight. Or, we might admire the steely independence in the heroine from our favorite romance novel.
But, what if you prefer the antagonist? What if you prefer Professor Snape to Professor Dumbledore? Does your pulse race when your favorite villain takes his outrageous behavior to a new level? In some deep, dark recess of your imagination, do you find yourself rooting for the bad guy just a little?
A well-written antagonist elicits a strong response from the reader. One of my favorite series is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sauron is the big bad embodiment of evil. We don’t know anything about him, except for the fact that he’s the enemy and must be defeated. I know I’m supposed to root against him, and I do, but I don’t have any strong feelings for him—not really. But, let me tell you this—when Boromir was swayed by the evil of the ring and went a little crazy at the end of book one, he became one of my favorite characters.
Okay, so maybe I’m a little twisted.
My point is this: characters must be multidimensional, even the bad guys. It was Boromir’s struggle throughout the book that appealed to me. He wasn’t evil, but he was influenced by it. I understood his dilemma and it made him more real to me. The antagonist in any novel is more interesting if there are a few flashes of likability. Is the villain sarcastic and sometimes funny? Is there something in his past that caused him to become wicked? Do we feel sorry for him just a little? If the reader has an emotional connection with the bad-guy, the story is a much better read.
The protagonist must have layers too. The main character, though admirable and wonderful in almost every way possible, must sometimes succumb to jealousy, impetuousness, vanity, or rage. Those flaws and failures make them human. They help us connect with the main character on an emotional level.
For those readers out there, ask yourself what you look for in a hero...and a villain. If you find a book with characters who really talk to you, don’t be afraid to recommend that book to others. Not only can you connect with the characters in the novel, you can connect with other readers when you sit down to discuss your favorite characters.
And, for writers, I challenge you to analyze the characters you’ve created. How well do you know them? Have you created multidimensional heroes your readers can fall in love with, flaws and all? Or is your heroine too perfect? Do your villains have elements to their personality that add depth to the character? As writers, we need to connect with our readers by creating characters they can connect with.
The Claiming Words by Tricia Drammeh
The Alexanders have always kept their secrets hidden…
When sixteen-year-old Jace Alexander moves to the small town of Oaktree, Georgia, he attracts the attention of every girl in school. Shy, introverted Alisa Cole immediately casts Jace in the leading role of her latest fantasy, but she assumes he’ll never return her interest. After she saves Jace from a Hunter, everything changes. Her accidental discovery of Jace’s secret propels her into a world of magic and danger. Alisa’s newfound courage is put to the test when Jace introduces her to his intimidating older brother, Bryce, and she decides she would rather battle a Hunter than endure another moment under Bryce’s intense scrutiny.
Jace and Bryce aren’t the only ones with secrets…
Rachel Stevens is the girl who has it all. She’s beautiful, popular, and in possession of an ancient power which endangers not only her, but those sent to protect her. Jace is drawn to Rachel—and he isn’t the only one. The Demon Re’Vel will do anything to claim her—even if it means waging a war with the entire Alexander family. As layers of secrets are peeled away, revealing the truth of her heritage and her family’s betrayal, Rachel struggles to resist an immortal suitor who stalks her in her dreams. With the Alexanders fighting to protect her, can Rachel escape the power of the Demon and his Claiming Words?
Tricia Drammeh is a wife and a mother of four children. Although she currently lives in Missouri, she has called many places home, including Georgia, Ohio, and California. She’s worked in retail, customer service, sales, and accounting, but writing has always been her dream career. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, drinking vast amounts of coffee, and spending time with her family and the multitude of animals who have taken over her home. Tricia is currently working on her sixth novel.