Making Characters Relatable and Authentic

In storytelling, characters serve as the lifeblood of your narrative. They’re the individuals we root for, despise, empathize with and become invested in. But what makes a character truly resonate with readers? In essence, they need to be relatable and authentic, and here’s how you do it.

What Makes a Character Relatable and Authentic?

Relatable and authentic characters reflect elements of reality. They embody the complexities of human nature, showcasing a blend of strengths, weaknesses and a gamut of emotions. They possess motivations that drive them, face challenges that test them, and grow in ways that surprise yet satisfy readers.

Leaning Into Flaws: Perfectly Imperfect Characters

Characters, like people, are not perfect. Flaws make characters human, allowing readers to see themselves reflected in the narrative. A great example is how Harry Potter is courageous, but his hot-headedness often gets him into trouble.

Making Your Characters Feel Real With Emotional Resonance

A character that resonates emotionally with readers is one who experiences feelings that are genuine and palpable. Think of how Katniss Everdeen’s love for her sister Prim in “The Hunger Games” drives her to volunteer, instantly connecting us to her predicament.

Consistency in Character Behavior

Authentic characters behave in ways that align with their established personality, background and situation. When characters act out of character without proper justification, it risks breaking the immersion for the reader.

Empathy vs. Sympathy

Sympathy might make your readers feel sorry for your characters, but empathy will make readers understand them and thus become more invested. Whether it’s Elizabeth Bennet’s prejudice or Mr. Darcy’s pride, their flaws make them human and their journey more meaningful.

Challenging Your Characters With Internal and External Conflicts

Conflicts serve to challenge your characters, driving their growth while keeping readers engaged. Be it an internal struggle with self-doubt or an external clash with an adversary, conflicts create tension and dynamism in your story.

The Importance of Perspective

To write authentically, you need to walk in your characters’ shoes. Understand their worldviews, embrace their emotions, and rationalize their decisions. This exercise of empathy will lend depth and authenticity to your character portrayals.

Characters Are People, Too

Crafting relatable and authentic characters is a careful balancing act. But with practice and introspection, you can create characters that engage readers and stay with them long after they’ve turned the last page.