Characters, it’s what makes your book readable. You have your protagonist and your antagonist. There’s your supporting characters and the characters that add a little bit of color here and there. But, what really makes your book *pop*? What really makes your characters relatable? It’s their flaws.
That’s right. It’s their flaws. It’s the bits and pieces that make them seem human, a bit more like the reader themselves. I had a friend not too long ago ask me to go over a story idea of his and give him some feedback. It wasn’t too bad, but I suggested that he give the three main characters some flaws so that the readers would care more about them, and, therefore, more about the story. His reply back to me was that the one character was arrogant and that was his flaw. Maybe, but I don’t see how that would make the readers want to keep reading and get invested for that character. He’s since revisited those characters.
Personally, I find it easier to put something of myself in each of the characters that I write for. Maybe it’s more helpful that I have a co-author and the way that the two of us play off of each other we never know what the other is going to do so it keeps things more interesting.
The bottom line is this… keep things interesting. No one wants to read about a perfect character that never does anything wrong. Give them something that makes them relatable and it will keep your reader’s interest and you won’t regret it.
What can I say, it’s another dirty word: Proofreading.
If you’re an Indie Author like me, you are going to try and do as much of the heavy lifting as you can. But, trust me on this, another set of eyes is worth it. Better yet, the more the merrier!
You can read the same thing a hundred, a couple of hundred times, and it will look the same to you. In fact, you know what you are trying to say, so your brain will think it sees the word you are intending to write, but it’s not the correct one. After all, who knows your story better than you do? I can’t tell you how many times I overlooked “adored” as “adorned”. Spell check didn’t catch it because it’s a correctly spelled word. Shame on me.
That’s where we’re going to get into our topic of the day: Beta Readers! These can be your friends, your co-workers, your next door neighbors…anyone that you think will give you honest and open feedback about your first draft. Now, you want to do this after you’ve already run it through spell check a couple a three times. Don’t ignore those green squiggly lines either.
Ask your Beta Readers for a few things. After all, these people are getting an advanced look at the next best-selling novel that’s going to be out on the market! Ask them to give you feedback on:
- Storyline: Did it make sense? Did it follow a logical path? Did the reader feel invested?
- Characters: Did they have a good character arc? Were they relatable? What did they like? What didn’t they like?
- Details: Were there enough? Were there too many? Did you show and not tell?
You will always want honesty over false praise. There is nothing worse than asking someone what they thought and getting, “I liked it.” That tells the writer absolutely nothing. You might as well be told that the person didn’t even bother to read what you gave them. I would much rather hear about my novel’s flaws than hear fake words. After all, if I don’t know what’s broken, I can’t fix it.