Writers, by necessity, must have a very complicated relationship with their characters. It’s not as simple as creating them and then throwing them in the story. No, you have to care about them and hate them at the same time.
You see, it’s essential for a writer to care about their characters. If the writer doesn’t care about the character, neither will the reader. It shows in the writing. Oh, there are ways to make it look like you care about a character when you don’t, but they are contrived and lessen the reader’s connection to the story. Actually caring is the only way to organically transfer the feeling into the writing.
That said, if the writer cares too much, it creates another problem. It makes the plot fall short, because the writer isn’t willing to have (as) bad things happen to their characters. The character also tends to have less flaws. The result is that the character strolls through their trials with ease, never truly losing anything, never being forced to make a difficult decision.
The solution is that the writer must hate their character with a fiery burning passion. Feeding on that hatred, the writer can throw obstacle after obstacle at their character, laughing maniacally all the way. The character will make mistakes and lose friends, precious possessions, limbs, or even their lives. And the story will be interesting.
However, if the writer hates the character too much, then the character will lose their depth and the reader won’t be able to connect. If the character becomes nothing more than a bland punching bag, waiting for the next blow to fall, the reader will lose interest and likely walk away. So, the writer must care deeply about the character.
It’s all about balance. You need to be able to care about the character so much that is shows through in the writing, while hating them so much that you can put them through the worst ordeals of their lives. You must be able to cry as their souls are crushed, even as you’re squeezing tighter.
A writer must have a relationship with their characters worthy of writing a story about.
Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.