Isn’t that why we read fiction novels and short stories and go to see movies? We want to be entertained and forget about our lives for the moment and transport to another world. Of course, when you are writing, you always want to get the facts straight and keep those in order so that your readers believe your words. However, when you write something fantastical or paranormal, you have more license with your story telling, provided you create a believable human element to your story.
No matter what you write about, if you don’t have a compelling human element, your readers will not be drawn into the story and they won’t willingly suspend their disbelief and walk with you on the journey that could be great if your human element was great.
One of my favorite aspects of writing a book is to create compelling characters. I want them to captivate the readers from the moment they meet them and read the first description or first bit of dialogue. I want my characters to be three-dimensional. Even if you have the best plot, if your characters are not compelling, your story will fall flat and leave the reader wanting more.
One-dimensional characters are only fillers and you usually will not have many of these. They exist as a necessary means to move certain aspects of the plot forward. For example, in my book, Mr. Shipley’s Governess, my protagonist walked to the post office to get the mail. She met a woman outside and just said hello and also spoke to the Postman. They were necessary one-dimensional characters, not heard of again in the rest of the novel.
In most short stories, the characters are two-dimensional and readers do not see much personal growth because these characters are only supposed to move the plot line forward. In the short story, the plot is the star, not the characters.
In a novel, the characters take center stage and it is through them that the reader is drawn into the story and the characters drive the plot. The human element must be real in a novel; otherwise, the readers will not connect with the characters and thus they will soon tire of the novel. Three-dimensional characters must have a past, live in the present and look towards the future. They must exhibit believable emotions, even if the story line is fantastical. If the emotions are raw and real, the reader will truly bond with the characters and become totally engrossed in the story.
Especially when writing a romance novel, the writer should focus on the two main protagonists, the romantic interests. Other characters will be secondary; although, contrary to the short story, these two-dimensional characters will have to be fleshed out to some degree to make them work well in the novel. If you are writing a mystery novel, you will still have only a few (one to three) main characters, but you also need to focus in on making certain your secondary characters have some depth. However, never rob your protagonists of the center stage. They are the ones that your readers will focus most attention on and rightly so.
Keep your facts straight and you’ll get points with your readers. Take time to edit your work so that grammar mistakes and misspellings do not distract your readers. Create a gripping plot that will keep your readers turning the pages. However, most of all keep the human element as the highest priority and create compelling characters that your readers will relate to and come to call friends.