As I said in a previous post titled What Makes A Book Good?, characters are one vital part of it. They are the eyes and ears of what is happening in the book, they are the ones who we will be reading about as the book progresses. It is extremely important that they are well written and develop throughout the story. So let’s get started.
1. The Motivations
This is the heart and soul of the character. This is simply why they are doing the things they do. They have to have a motivation whether that maybe revenge, money, etc. This is the sole purpose of the book after all. A simple motivation more often than not is enough. The character needs something to push them. When they get pushed to do something, they have to make choices. Do they want to do something that will get then closer to their goal or maybe help a friend? They have to make a decision that will help further develop them. The reader may not have to like the character, but if they understand why they do the things they do, they don’t have too. They might even relate to what they feel. This plays a bigger part for antagonists. Villains need a reason for being, well….evil. For the Joker in the Dark Knight, my favorite movie of all time, he wanted to show that everyone was not much different from him. He wanted to show that even the best could be broken.With that, you give purpose to his decisions. There is no carefree nature to it, everything has a means to an end.
Now this may not be the most important part, but I do admit it is the most noticeable. Readers connect with a likeable character, keeping them hooked to the book. Creating a character that readers can relate too will keep them reading and make a connection with them. It makes every decision, every consequence, everything that affects them mean that much more. It makes a fictional character seem real. When that happens, it invests the reader. It leaves an impression that will stay with the reader long after they finish. You don’t need to make then charming or persuasive. The character may not be a great person like Jaxon in The Cure for the Common Universe, but that does not make them a bad character. Just a bad person. Antagonists should be scary, menacing, etc. They don’t have to be this massive beast, but maybe a human with calculated moves aimed to torture the protagonist.
3. Character Development
In my opinion, this is the most important part of a good character. They have to develop as the story goes. If they end up staying the same person as they were at the beginning, there is no sense of accomplishment. Sometimes it feels worthless to read a book to discover the protagonist did nothing. Development cannot be rushed. The character has to make decisions throughout the book that affect the very person they are. It has to feel earned, it has to feel genuine. It adds a sense of progression, a sense of accomplishment. When a reader takes the time to follow the character and see them change for the better or worse, it means that much more. This does relate a bit to personality and motivations. Their motivations are what pushes them to change and the change to their personality is the reward. This is the most important part of creating a villain. The best type of villain challenges the protagonist, he changes them. When the protagonist and antagonist square off, it is an accumulation of all the hero’s previous experiences that comes a result from the villain’s choices. The person at the start should not completely be the same person at the end.
Now that is what I think makes a good character. You might disagree on what i said and that is ok. Maybe you think personality is more important, that is absolutely fine. These are just my opinions.