Developing a Character to Cheer For
It is easy to write characters, but it is something else entirely to create a character the reader wants to cheer for. That is something each writer prays they achieve when they publish a book. They want the reader to be rooting for a character and be on pins and needles to see what they do next. So how do you go about creating such a character?
Look at Yourself
What I mean is not to imitate yourself, but look at what characters you like to cheer for. What is it about them that has you shouting at a movie screen or at a book for them to follow a certain course or make a confession? That is what you are to look for. Look at what draws you to a character.
Examine the characters you root for. What do they do that makes you react so strongly to them? Actually list the attributes out. Every little thing they do and say that has you feeling strong emotions should be listed. Now look over it. Do you see a common trend? Do you see the soul of the character?
For me, a character has to be one I can relate to. Can I feel her pain because I’ve been there? Can I relate to her on a deeper level? Those are the character I cheer the most for. In a way I become them. In that case, my characters I create are ones I try to get the reader to relate to. Can they feel the uncertainty in the situation the same way? Can they feel the same pain and joy? It’s obvious that you can’t reach every reader like that, but you can reach many others.
The Character of the Character
Does the character have to have a strong sense of morality? Do they have to show their flaws along with their positive attributes? Do you like to see them be consistent or show dramatic growth? What is it about the character has you wanting to cheer for them?
Keep in mind that the character doesn’t have to always be perfect or innocent. In fact, most readers prefer a character who is real with strong attributes and faults to keep them human. Yet there are some characteristics that no reader will cheer for. Those that wish ill on others are generally not cheered for. Flawed isn’t the same as outright evil.
Have you watched the TV series, Once Upon a Time? When you start it, you absolutely hate the evil queen. She deserves it. Yet...
As the writers bring forth her past, they expose her true self. She was pretty evil, but there was a part of her that was still good. The writers showed us how she hadn’t started that way. She was a victim of a power hungry mother. She allowed her need for revenge to consume her and darken her soul almost completely. After the writers revealed her past and her struggles, she became a character we could at times really cheer for. She was real to us and vulnerable.
Give Them a Cause
A character with a cause is always easy to cheer for. The reader then ends up rooting for the cause and the character. People get emotional over certain topics and most of those topics are centered around causes. Your character could be fighting health insurance companies, racism, abuse, the right worship as they please, or any number of causes. Even fighting a disease is a cause worth cheering for. People love to root for someone. Give them that someone.
Curious as to how readers will react to your character? You should be. It’s their reactions you really need and want. Before you publish your book, see if you have written that character you want your readers to cheer for. Give it a test run.
Get a bunch of beta readers together and read your edited work. Make sure they are honest readers. You don’t want people to pad your ego. You want honesty about what you are putting out for the public.
Ask which characters they liked and which ones they didn’t like. Why did they or didn’t they? Get details. What did they like? What did they not like? What prevented them connecting with the characters?