7 Character Non-Negotiables

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

What’s more important . . . plot or character? Yeah, that’s a loaded question. The answer is they’re both important. But today let’s focus on character.

To make a really great character—meaning one that sticks in a reader’s mind for a long time after they shut the book—you need to have a few essential elements. Okay, I lied. It’s more like seven.

1. Conflict

Is your character feeling like life is all rainbows and happiness and their pants aren’t digging in at the waist? Too bad. You’ve got to mess it up all up for him. Make it rain. Break his happy bones. Give him a weight gain of five hundred pounds.

2. Desire

What does your character want? He’s got to want something. A burp to ease his heartburn. A new Porsche. Maybe some Smart Wool socks because his toes are cold. What’s his goal and what’s motivating him to get there?

3. Confusion

Misdirect your character and you misdirect the reader. That’s a good thing. As long as you’re keeping your character guessing, you’re keeping your reader guessing as well. Just make sure to tie things up by the end of the story and make everything clear.

4. Credibility

Your character has to deserve his losses and earn his victories. Coincidence won’t cut it or your reader will slice you to pieces with a one-star review—a sharp, pointy, throwing-ninja star.

5. Flaws

Nobody loves a perfect character. They’re annoying. Every character needs to have some kind of flaw, even if it’s just a zit on the end of her chin. Okay, that’s annoying too. Don’t use that flaw. Make up a better one.

6. Cluelessness

Don’t make your characters all knowing, unless your character is God, and that seems kind of heretical. The point is that it’s fun for the reader to know something the character doesn’t. Makes the reader feel all superior and hey-look-at-me-I’m-brilliant.

7. Success

Every now and then your character needs to be successful. Yeah, you’re supposed to be upping the stakes, leading to a blood-gory climax, but along the way the reader needs a break. Put little park benches of wins for your character to give the reader a rest from the action.

Next time you’re working on an epic, make sure to include these traits in your main characters.

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12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Author Michelle Griep

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.