Why should I care about your characters?

Today I’m just going to pose a question and let you do the answering. There are millions of self-published novels out there. It’s only logical to conclude that many of them share similar plot, themes, and characters.

As a writer, I want people to read my story. You want the same for yours. You’re essentially grabbing a reader by the ears and telling her that out of the millions of novels in existence, she should read yours next.

Characters are the driving force of any story. Plots are exciting and entertaining, but a solid, well-crafted character keeps us coming back no matter what plot he’s thrown into.

Back to the question. I, as a reader, ask you, the writer, the following: since I have thousands of characters at my fingertips, why should I care about yours?

If you as the writer can’t answer that question in the first pages of your novel, I’ll probably stop reading and go find someone who can.

It’s harsh, I know. But it’s a competitive and saturated market. It’s the way things work.

The good news is you CAN answer this question. It’ll take a lot of thought and examination of your characters, and maybe some change or rewriting, but I have faith in you.

Keep in mind the answer has to be independent of the plot. Look at who your character is, not what he does or will do. Explore his connection with himself and with other characters. Find the beating heart that makes him live. Tear it open and see what’s inside. Then answer the question.

You should care about my character because _______ .

Fill in that blank and find a way to convey that connection in your story’s beginning, and you’ll win over a lot more readers than if you merely plowed on ahead with the plot.

Trust me. I’ll be one of those readers.

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