Which Characters Belong in Your Story?

While I realize this may be stating the obvious, I still must say that characters are an important part of your story. Even the greatest plots wouldn’t make good stories if the characters weren’t three-dimensional, or were weak, boring, and too stupid to live. Does that mean all characters should be strong personalities? No. However, you need a good reason to have them in your story. This is the beginning of a series where we’ll look closely at characters.

What type of main characters should be in your story? Someone who:

-needs something, has a goal (one that’s not easy to attain) to reach for and grasp by the end of the story
-has motivation or a reason to have this goal (He’s not just chasing something for the heck of it. This includes the villain, but we’ll talk more about that in another post.)
-tries to prevent the hero or heroine from attaining his/her goal
-feels real, has depth and personality
-is flawed and has room for growth
-readers can relate to and/or care about

What type of character wouldn’t make a good main character? Someone who:

-doesn’t have a goal
-doesn’t have a reason/motivation for the goal
-just exists to have things happen to him
-is too perfect and doesn’t have room for growth
-is so depressing, we don’t want to read about her
-is boring, so we don’t care to know more about him
-is non-reactive (If something happens to him, he doesn’t react or try to find a way to avoid the same problem, he simply continues on–no growth.)
-is annoying (If the person would annoy you in real life, chances are he’d annoy the reader, too.)
-is too cutesy
-is too stupid to live (You know this character. She’s the heroine who hears a noise in the basement, when a serial killer is on the loose in her neighborhood, and she goes to check it out during a power outage. Yeah, too stupid to live.)
-is too broken (There’s no way she’ll be “fixed” or will grow enough before the end of the book.)
-wanders around aimlessly waiting for something to happen
-doesn’t take charge of his life or problems
-doesn’t react in a realistic manner (This could mean he underreacts or overreacts to situations, but it could also mean his reaction is simply not appropriate or believable.)

What are other types of characters who wouldn’t make good main characters?

Lynnette Labelle

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