TIP #4: CHARACTER part 2

by Peter Raymundo


Even if a character is not necessarily “likeable,” they can definitely be interesting—even enough to be the main character.  There can be many reasons for this, but one of the most basic ways of getting the reader interested in any character is this:  THE CHARACTER HAS A DISTINCT GOAL HE WILL DO ANYTHING TO ACHIEVE. 

I once heard the phrase that “enthusiasm is infectious.”  And in both stories and real life I have found this to be true.  Take the Olympics for instance.  Anyone from around the world can just turn on the television, see athletes lining up on the starting blocks, and be completely glued to the set to watch as the athletes race with all they’ve got.  Without knowing anything about them, just watching total strangers attempt to accomplish something with every ounce of their being is……more than just interesting.  It’s compelling.  Emotional even.  Of course, the more we know about them, (their country, background, struggles to get there, etc.) the more engrossing the experience can be.  But just having the goal alone is enough to attract us.

So this goes back to my very first tip.  What does the main character want?  But let me add to this by saying that ALL of the characters in your story should have a clear “want.”  And the more UNDERSTANDABLE the goal, the better.  Food, love, safety, friendship, to help others get the same….These are the best kind.  The story can get more and more complex, filled with dozens of other characters, but at the root of the story, we need to be able to say “This character wants THIS.  He has to overcome THAT in order to get it.  And he is willing to go to the end of the line to do it.”