3 Simple Ways To Make Readers Care About Your Characters

If I asked you why your favorite book is your favorite book, chances are high the reason will be because of the characters.

Yes, a great plot and lyrical prose make for a compelling read, but it’s the characters we like to follow from page to page and revisit if they leave the right impression.

So, how do we ensure we get this right impression? It’s actually a case of making readers care, and it can be easier than you think.

3 Simple Ways To Make Readers Care About Your Characters

Round Them Out With Relatability

Readers like to see themselves in characters. If they can relate to them, they will connect to them, and as a writer, you want that connection.

Make your characters relatable with traits that are universal. It’s a good idea to throw in some quirks, too. You never know how many other people out there might like the same niche pastime that you do.

You could also go the nostalgic route, adding that your character likes all the things you did growing up, like 90s rom-coms, cheese (who doesn’t love cheese?), puppies (who doesn’t love puppies?), or clowns (who doesn’t love… just kidding, no one loves clowns).

Select a key relatable trait, a quirk, and something nostalgic to add to your characters and create fictional people that feel as real to readers as themselves.

Steep Them In Sympathy

There’s a reason Save The Cat! is a much-touted piece of writing advice. If you see a character, good or bad, demonstrating a moment where they’re worth rooting for, it ups the care factor.

If you want such an endearing quality for your characters, it’s a good idea to find a way to do this.

Dig deep for incidents that have made you feel sorry for someone, or tap into having others feel that way about you, and thread it into your characters and the situations you put them in.

Show Their Multiple Sides

Showing readers multiple sides to your characters not only helps play into relatability and sympathy but it’s also a great trick on its own!

If your character is one-note, always being the goody-two-shoes, the sarcastic side-kick, or the over-the-top-destroy-everything villain, they get pretty boring, pretty quick.

However, if you play in the gray, and show that your villain is over-the-top because they suffered a tremendous, life-altering loss, or that your hero’s goody-two-shoe act is in response to a promise they made to someone special, you’ve got multiple sides.

Layers like that add to the character rather than just that one be-all and end-all side, and this makes them well-rounded enough for readers to follow them from chapter to chapter, even book to book.

So, add all the sides you can and play up the sympathy and relatability as the base of your characters and sprinkle them throughout your story. Not only will you make that caring connection with readers, but some damn good characters too.

— K.M. Allan

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

26 thoughts on “3 Simple Ways To Make Readers Care About Your Characters

  1. Great stuff, Kate! #3 is the one I need to work on, especially for my bad guys. I tend to make them evil but offer no reasons why. I’m too eager to make sure they get what’s coming to them, and forget that even bad guys are multidimensional too. (Hope your recovery is going smoothly.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Alexander! I have that problem too. If I could redo some of my villains I would certainly add more layers to them. It’s something I’m aiming for now in future stories.

      Unfortunately my major surgery was delayed yet again 😒🙄. I had a day procedure, though, which I’ve now recovered from. I also have an upcoming specialist appointment to find out the next steps.

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  2. Grant at Tame Your Book!

    Excellent, Kate! Thanks for the reminder of the importance of making characters relatable.

    Writers can give the antagonist likable qualities, but relatable traits and behaviors ring more authentic for the bad guys and gals. For example, in the movie Goldfinger, James Bond thinks and acts like a hero, but so does the chief villain, Auric Goldfinger.

    In a memorable scene, the evil nemesis bound the British agent to a gold slab and played slice and dice using a giant industrial laser. As the beam inched closer, Bond’s head pivoted up from the burning metal toward Goldfinger. “Do you expect me to talk?”

    Goldfinger stopped his departure from the room and faced 007. “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.”

    Despite the villain’s over-the-top lust for gold, the scenes leading up to the powerful slice-and-dice moment showed Goldfinger’s relatable qualities: he played cards, golfed, traveled, and worked — everyday activities common to the audience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’ll find we’re all like that, Glynis. I know I certainly could do more with my characters and wish I had with my earlier books. We just learn what we can and apply it going forward 😊.

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