Character Problems

This is going to be short and sweet, but I'd really love to hear some of your thoughts.

There are writers that follow the rules, and there are those that don't. Both find success, both find failure.

There are a thousand books and articles you can read on how to write believable and relatable characters, but they don't all say the same thing.

And then there are the novels that sell a bazillion copies around the world with characters that are so unbelievable that it's hard on the brain.

The problem with making characters believable and relatable is that we all have different experiences. So when the advice is, "I think this character is hard to relate to and not very believable, you'll need to fix that," it sounds right because that's what we've been taught. But, is it right? Could it be that the person handing out the advice doesn't understand the character because their life has been the complete opposite? Or are there rules that can be followed that will make your characters come to life for all readers, no matter what?

What do you focus on when you develop characters? Do you write them the way you envision them, because it's your story. Or do you consider your audience and try to make the characters relatable and believable to that audience?

I'd love to hear thoughts on this!


I write the character the way I envision. First, I do not know who will read my stories, aside from my creative writing professor. Second, I only have my own experiences to draw from, even when I am writing a story of a character who has done something I would never do, something inside me served as inspiration for the character. If I write for an audience I believe I lose my voice, and writing is no longer enjoyable.

That's a great question, and I would say I create my characters as they come to me. I might go back later and revise something about them because it doesn't work with the story line - or I "see" something I need to add about him or her for clarification.

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