Do you need to really like the main characters to enjoy a book?

I read an article recently that brought to mind something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately; do you need to like the characters very much in order to enjoy a particular story? My book, The Sham has a lot of not-very-nice girls which seems to be following a trend in YA at the moment and certainly it’s quite common in adult fiction too. I enjoyed Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on The Train precisely because the main character was so unreliable. I loved her because of her faults, not in spite of. The same for Gone Girl; while I couldn’t exactly relate to the notion of faking my own death, I still loved the book. Continue Reading

How to prep for creating realistic characters

home 9Nathan Bransford recently blogged about how to flesh out a character, listing three really important aspects of the preparation process: how it’s absolutely essential to understand what your characters want; how you really need to know their history; and how you should imagine your character at each part of their day (the choices they make, how they eat, where they go, what they think, etc.)

It got me thinking about how much work is actually involved in fleshing out characters and how much preparation you need to do in order for the characters to really come off the page. There is a great video on the BBC Writers Room here about the processes that very well-known authors use to do this. Some have to answer 50 questions about each character before they start and others find their characters come to them through a very physical process – talking out loud, walking around the room, etc. Above all, they talk about how essential it is to put themselves in their characters position.

The conclusion? Well, it’s nothing we didn’t know before but it’s worth reminding ourselves before we jump into the writing process too quickly that we really need to do a great deal of prep, probably before we start, on who each of our main characters are and secondly, we need to do a great deal of work.

Better get to it then…

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