As a writer I want my readers to identify with my characters, even if it’s a vampire, dwarf, serial killer or futuristic soldier. There’s got to be something that draws us in to the story, makes us care about what happens to them, forcing us to burn dinner or shrink the jeans in the dryer while we finish the chapter. Then hopefully you’ll throw the dinner out, turn off the dryer and go back to reading or writing in this case. In the current book I’m reading I just don’t care about the characters. I could accept flawed personalities, a dark side or even questionable behavior if it were believable. We’ve all known people like that. This book jumps around in the personality department to such a degree I’m convinced it could be a psychologist’s dream come true. Too many things happen that are life changing and the characters don’t seem to suffer for it or change in any way. Suffering changes you, people! Show that!
I’m nearing the end of the book (I hope) so the lessons are piling up. Here is a quick list.
1. Show don’t tell.
2. Make your characters come alive with realistic attitudes, emotions and consequences.
3. Don’t write like you’re in junior high unless you’re writing for junior high. This book appears to be written by a sixteen year old. If it were I’d say “Wow! This kid is going places!” But it is an adult book written by an author who claims to have been writing for two decades.
4. Join a critique group, writing organization, or take a class on better writing. I never stop learning and I hope I’ll never stop improving.
5. Constructive criticism is healthy just like vitamins and broccoli. I don’t think I even need to explain that one.
6. Write the kind of books you love to read.