How To Write Characters Your Readers Will Love

Knowing how to write characters in fiction novels is an important skill to have and it is great if you can write about characters so that they are loved by the reader. Happy readers means more sales, bigger royalty checks and with luck, freedom from the day job so you have more time to write. So don’t think you are too pure to consider how to make money writing – unless you’re independently wealthy, money matters!

It is the main characters in a book that will move the story forward so it is important to focus on these characters and develop them so that they fit well into the story. Note that we’re not talking about ‘difficult’ literary fiction here, but about the majority of mainstream fiction stories (including less experimental literary fiction) that appeals to the majority of readers. We’ll focus particularly on romance, simply because it has such a massive slice of the market and provides simple, clear examples.

A story generally has a protagonist, the main character whose story it mostly is. It’s possible to have more than one protagonist but it’s usually better not to split the reader’s attention too far.

In most cases, there is also an antagonist, who comes into the plot to cause trouble and poses problems or challenges for the protagonist. The antagonist could be a true villain, as in some crime stories, or someone who unintentionally gets in the way of the protagonist having an easy life, thus creating an internal conflict for the protagonist. In romance, the protagonist and antagonist often resolve their conflicts to end up living happily ever after together.

One thing that many people realize when writing a well constructed story is that the protagonist has to be liked. If the hero or heroine is not liked then it will be difficult for the viewer to connect with the story.

This doesn’t mean that the protagonist has to be 100% nice. If you create a hero or heroine that is mean in some way, that’s fine, but if you go too far, it may be difficult to see the positive sides in that character and they’ll just come across as someone who is negative and unlikable. If you work out a way of connecting this negativity with a past experience and give reasoning behind this, it may make more sense to the viewer and be more acceptable within the story.

This is another important part of having a well constructed story and is known as empathy. If the viewer can emphasize with the main characters then they can learn to like them a lot more.

There are generally two different types of heroes that can be found in the story and these are described as an Alpha hero and Beta hero.

The beta heroes are generally kinder than alpha heroes and they may be seen as slightly weaker in some way. These heroes are often portrayed as the type of character that could be described as the boy next door. This means that they’re easy to get along with and can make friends with almost anyone.

The alpha hero is stronger or higher status than the beta hero. In classic 19th century romance and even into the 20th and 21st centuries, he would usually be richer – although it’s possible to have an alpha hero who is poor but ambitious. He’s often more withdrawn than the beta hero; not so open, and more considered in his speech and decisions.

Because of this, an alpha hero often comes across as unlikeable, aloof or rude at first, either to the reader or to the protagonist, or both. One of the challenges of writing romance is how to bring the heroine and the reader to see through his aloofness to the passion that lies within, in a way that will have him become a truly admirable character in the end.

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Writing Fiction Characters (part 2)

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tattoos-alpha-heroIf you read older romance novels (in fact, anything up to about the 1980s) you’ll find that alpha heroes are often sexist in their attitudes. These days, that’s best avoided unless you’re writing historical fiction – and even then, he needs to get over it at the end. Alpha heroes are not as derogatory of women as they used to be, although they’re usually still strong in character and have a tendency to hide their emotions.

Another important feature of the main character is the ability for them to make mistakes. If the character is completely perfect then they will not connect well with the viewer. Little details help to make them seem real.

If you need to make a character more attractive to the reader, give them something that they love and care for. This could be a pet, a dependent family member young or old, or even a houseplant! Just something that brings out the caring side of the character, and shows that even an alpha hero is vulnerable under his shell.

It is important to develop your character and to design them with a background in place so that there is information about their past. This will stop them from being boring and lifeless and will give them more character. You don’t have to tell the whole of your character’s past life, but is a good idea to develop a brief idea of the type of childhood that your character had so that you can make connections between this childhood and their adult life.

For instance, if the main character is a woman who grew up in a home where abuse took place from a man such as her stepfather, she is unlikely to trust men in her adult life and this can be outlined in the story.

Anything but a short story needs more than two characters, so you will often have a selection of characters that can be described as secondary characters and these are not as detailed in their structure as the main characters. They have their own threads within the story, known as subplots, but it is important that they do not become too overpowering.

A secondary character that becomes too important within the story will create a problem and unbalance the dynamics of the characters. Secondary characters become overpowering if they have more presence or pack a greater emotional punch than the main characters. This will create confusion for the reader.

Writing about the villain can be a tricky task within a story, as you don’t want them to be too likeable. If the hero or heroine are less likeable than the villain, then you have a problem and an unbalanced story. However, you still need to give the villain a human touch and cannot make them out to be a complete monster.

It is important to understand that the heroes and heroines can still do bad things as well as the villain, but as long as they are doing those things for the greater good then it should be seen in a positive way.

How To Make Money Writing Fiction

It is well known that fiction writers who make a living from their craft are few and far between. Those who know how to make money writing fiction and actually earn a fortune are the exception rather than the rule.

The likes of Stephen King, Tom Clancy and Frederick Forsyth whilst all brilliant authors are extremely rare and definitely not the norm.

It is a well known fact that earning a large amount of money from fiction writing is becoming harder and harder.

However, there is good news. There are newer methods of publishing which are getting a real push with print on demand becoming an affordable method of self publishing.

If you were fortunate enough to get your manuscript accepted by a publisher you would be offered an advance which is supposed to be equivalent to the books earnings.

This probably would be for Stephen King but not for a new writer. this is an advance against future earnings and is yours, it will not be taken back.

All earnings after the advance will be from royalties and are a percentage of the sales volume of the book after they have deducted the advance.

These are normally in the region of four percent but can rise to eight percent , it just depends on the contract offered.

Remember this is on the price the publisher receives, not the sales price of the book.

It is possible for authors to receive an advance of $50,000 but this is an exception. Figures of $10,000 or less would be close to the norm and this would only normally be offered to established writers, this is something to aspire too rather than expect.

Obviously if your book is a great success then the next advance will be a lot larger and easier to get.

With the growth of the internet a newer means of publishing has become possible for the new writer, Print On Demand. [POD] is basically a copy of your novel held in electronic form on a publishers website. When somebody buys a copy of your book it is printed, bound and dispatched.

It is exactly what the name implies, a publisher holds a large number of mixed genre scripts which are viewed on their site.

Once ordered it is produced and this obviously encourages POD sites to accept unknown authors as there outlay is nil, besides website costs, until someone pays in advance for the book they want.

This also opens the door to small independent entrepreneurs who can get small runs of unique books to sell on to specialist shops.

By far the biggest growth marketing recently is the explosion of Ebooks.

Programs for self publishing are easily available and once studied they are easily implemented. Once you have the knowledge the ever increasing number of online designers, editors and proofreaders means that research can be carried out from the comfort of your home

Once you have an electronic manuscript it is almost easier than writing it to see it on sale as a finished product.

The growth of Ebook sales is phenomenal and it must surely be the way forward as more and more people have Ereaders or Ereader programs on their laptops.

The way to success is research so check out which of these self publishing methods is best for your novel.

The internet is brimming with free information on self publishing and the costs are extremely small compared to the possible returns for a best seller.

It is now easier than ever to become published and with the growth of self publishing the work is now concentrated into writing rather than fighting to get published, so it is possible to earn something if you know how to make money writing fiction.