Whatever else a writer seeks to do with their work, the thing readers will care about the most are your characters. I have, rather strangely, been building up everything else and have found the process of making my own make-believe world and plot so fascinating, I could easily forget the characters themselves, and why their particular stories mattered. Thus my fiction tends to be…not exactly cold, but half-thawed and waiting for an oven’s heat. It is in characters, their suffering and clashing personalities and heartfelt needs and desires, where fiction finds its true potency.
Here are three questions I have slowly been learning to ask, the three most essential questions for the most essential reason to write fiction. If you do nothing else to deepen your own characters, ask these questions and answer them in as much detail as you can:
1. What makes them winsome or likable, or at least interesting?
2. What are their flaws?
3. Why should your readers care about them and where their story goes?
Answer these, and you are off to a good start on making your characters come to life. They will start to get more relatable, more understandable, and become a way for author and reader to connect in a profound way. They will form the core of a story that matters, a story that goes somewhere and gets us invested.