I started this blog with the intention of writing helpful articles for authors who need writing/publishing advice! I’m fairly new to the business myself, but I’d love to share what I’ve learned!
Thursday, January 8, 2015
5 Types Of Characters Readers Hate
Characters are one of the most important aspects of your novel. You could have the best story in the world, but if we don't care about your characters, we won't want to journey with them to the end of the book. Today, I'm going to talk about the top 5 types of characters that readers hate.
1. The whiny character. I think this type of character is perhaps the most annoying because we all know people like this in real life. That person who is always a victim, always throwing a pity party. They never see themselves as the problem, only others. These people are CONSTANTLY complaining. Then to make matters worse, the author usually tries to make us empathize by having all of the other characters hate them for no reason.
2. The stereotypical character. The smart Asian kid, the nerd with glasses, the handsome jock, the wise old man. Nobody wants to read a book where every single character is just a walking cliche. Not only does it make your characters seem like they were copy and pasted from every story you've ever heard, but it perpetuates old ideas instead of bringing new ones. Readers don't want to hear about the black kid who listens to rap. How about we write about a black kid who is fond of country music or a white kid who loves to dance. People are more than their exterior, let's act like we believe it!
3. The indestructible character. This type of character is the worst when it comes to plot driven novels. What gives us that uneasy feeling in our chest when we read an action/thriller/adventure book, is the feeling that our hero could die at any moment. When writers make it where the only thing that could possibly hurt our character is *cough* kryptonite, we lower the stakes to practically nothing. These types of characters make us roll our eyes because no matter what happens, we know they're gonna make it to the end.
4. The "too perfect character" is similar to the "indestructible character", but different enough that I'm going to give it it's own section. There are two parts to this kind of character. The first is the behaviorally perfect character. It's that person you see and think, somebody buy this guy a halo and start calling him angel because he can do no wrong. Not only are these characters boring as heck, but because they aren't flawed, it leaves them no room to grow. No growth means no arc. Stories that resonate with readers are the ones that connect them on an emotional level. We can't relate to perfection, so don't make your character flawless.
5. The passive character. This is the person that can't make any decisions. This is the person you take out to dinner and they couldn't care less about where you eat except that one place. Characters like this make it difficult for the reader because they slow down the story. Whether you are trying to get the ring to mordor or trying to rescue the princess, this person is stopping on the wayside to pick flowers. Because of this, the author starts making decisions for them. Let's use the example of a love triangle. Our main character Emma falls in love with Bryce and Stan, but she can only be with one. Assertive Emma would act, deciding which one she loves more. This could be over a period of time of her actively getting to know both boys, but she will eventually make a move. Passive Emma might mess around with both boys, leading them on because she is unsure of what she wants. The author will step in and try to make it easier for Passive Emma, maybe by having one of the boys go off to college so that she doesn't have to choose. Life is full of decision making so your book should be too. Never step
in to conveniently help your characters. Make your characters ACT. You
may even be surprised where they take you.