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Whether your fiction is plot driven or character driven, if your characters are flat, your readers will hate them. We’ve all heard about employing all the senses to bring the scenes alive to readers. Tastes, smells, touch, sounds all work to hook and ground the reader in the scene and the tone of that scene. Want to really show them what’s going on, though? Incorporate body language to communicate emotions and thoughts to your reader. Speaks volumes and is generally unnoticed as a device! Study the body language of people around you – read some good books on the topic. This is a tool that will serve you well.
Quirks (plausible ones) make for memorable characters and stories. Once you’ve established the goals and motivations for your characters, employing the memorable characteristic won’t be too difficult – it just has fit that character. Be sure to weave in the “clues” early on and you’ll be surprised at how that character leaps off the page and into the hearts of your readers. Think of Forrest Gump, Archie Bunker or Monk. How about the Golden Girls? All of these characters had excessive and memorable characteristics or traits that made them unforgettable. Find those in your characters.
Open that dark closet door. Let’s face it – life isn’t neat and clean. The darker the secrets, the bigger the fears, the more conflicts and obstacles you’ll be able to place in the path of your characters. Think about it – even nursery rhymes are fraught with danger and evil things. The more realistic the fear, the more human the secret – the stronger your readers’ bond with your characters.
Touch the heart. Humor and tears will grab and keep your reader like nothing else can. Write from your heart – and you’ll touch theirs. Just ask Nicholas Sparks if you don’t believe me…
See you later – keep writing!