I was given a book, “The Writer’s Lab (a place to experiment with fiction)” by Sexton Burke. I can’t tell you much about the book yet, but one of the first things it had me do was write down my favorite authors.
There are a lot of them. Fredric Brown, Edgar Allen Poe, Melissa Michaels, Anne McCaffrey, JRR Tolkien… the list goes on and on.
And then, the next bit was something that made me really think: Why did I like them? What about their writing drew me to them?
I love stories that keep me guessing, I live for stories that take my breath away, but more than anything… it’s about character.
I recently started to watch a movie I really thought I’d love. The concept was interesting, the comedic elements were in place. The actors were good, but the story fell flat and I turned it off. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t until the next day, when I was watching a movie I didn’t think I’d like and was immediately drawn into the story that I realized the real problem: I felt nothing for the main characters. Even the secondary characters weren’t worth the time.
I think I knew this long before now, but this is the first time I’m really putting it into words: characters is what invests me in a story. If I care about the characters, I forget everything else. They take me on this great adventure.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the “Summer Blockbuster/Action Thriller Explosion Fests” as much as the next person, but if you want me to enjoy a story, if you want me to come back for more, I have to care about the story and in the end it’s not the story I really care about but the characters in the story.
Give them life, give them personality and I’m hooked. When I’m writing, that’s my audience and as I have read many times, in many writing books: if I don’t care about my characters… no one else will.
In the end, it is all about character.