CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IV—Readers’ Perspective
How many times have you been reading a good book when suddenly one of the characters does something completely OUT-of-character? Sometimes this is a planned plot-twist. However, too often, it is an error on the author’s part when they lose track of who their people are and how they will (hopefully) connect with readers.
In my research for writing class presentations, I came across a category of career fields that deal with leadership development. Wait. I know you’re already thinking WHAT do those folks know about developing writing skills and creating characters? Answer. ANY field of education that helps us appreciate PEOPLE (readers) can enlighten writers by giving us opportunities to understand ourselves and, most importantly, our Readers. Below are several pointers I’ve gleaned from the writings of Marcia Reynolds, coach and leadership consultant. I’ve adapted her conclusions to focus on the needs most READERS’ have to make the decision to buy your book and “follow” your characters.
- Readers are Emotional book buyers. Are you providing them with characters who will touch them emotionally and lead them into the FAN category, buying your next book, and the next? Everything the human brain perceives is processed through the emotional center of our brains first. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with your readers.
- Characters provide safe examples of both good and bad decision-making. In a very real way writers become teachers of various methods of coming to a decision. Thus it is our responsibility to develop an understanding of “cognitive decision-making” and “human nature.” Consequences of choices are plentiful because the human brain is too good at rationalizing, justifying, defending choices and even denying them.
- Writers need time to think and so do readers. While the author enjoys a good length of time to develop characters and their quirks, readers do not. They are absorbing the essence of actors in your story with every paragraph and page. If the writer doesn’t dedicate the time—make the decision to take the time needed to mull over multiple possibilities—Readers will end up confused and disinterested.
- As the Director of your Band of characters you’ll need to ask yourself:
- What does character “A” need to know before making a wise (or foolish) decision?
- What foreseeable consequences do they imagine for themselves AND others? Or are they only focused on themselves?
- Do they need only current circumstances knowledge or past experience?
- Is there another character who has been in the same situation and would be willing to talk about it? Would character “A” be willing to ask?
- Does your character struggle with fear of losing control, or fear of how others might judge them? Or is he/she already calling themselves an idiot for even considering the choice they really want to make?
Main Point in today’s blog is this: Authors must step into the role of leaders for themselves and their Readers. We need to walk and run and rest in the shoes of the Reader and be prepared to answer all their WHY questions about every choice our characters make—good or bad—right or wrong—selfishly or unselfishly. This is not as daunting as it sounds. If you need support, your publisher has excellent writing coaches and ghostwriters who can help. ⚓︎
|ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.