The Bookish Fox

How Bad Characters Are Like Bad Dates

We have all been there.

It is like you are in a bad sci-fi novel and time has magically slowed. You know the seconds feel like hours because you have been checking your watch frequently. As in, every five seconds.

It may be in your head, but you think the waiter has been looking at you with pitying eyes.

Yes, you guessed it. It is the date from hell. It is the date defined by long, awkward silences, or, worse yet, the person across from you will not stop yammering on without a break.

Why is the date awful?

It comes down to one thing: the person is not interesting to you.

The reasons may vary from person to person, but the bottom line is that you are bored. You just really don’t get a sense of the person’s personality, or, if you do, it is snore-inducing.

Ever put down a book?

I bet it was because of the main character. You probably just didn’t care. It was either because he or she was really dull, unoriginal, one-dimensional, or you hated him or her (in a way that didn’t make you want to keep reading).

The books you couldn’t put down?

You loved the main character (or if you hated him or her, you were at least mesmerized). You wanted him or her to succeed. You cried when he or she was in pain. You cheered when he or she got the girl or boy. You flinched when he or she did something really embarrassing.

Bottom line: what makes or breaks a book is the main character.

How do you know if your characters are boring?

Is she passed out during a major fight scene (yes, I am looking at you Twilight)? Then, yes, your character is dull.

In all seriousness, a good first clue is if you are bored writing about the character. If you are put to sleep by your character, then your readers definitely are.

Your character is boring if your character is a cliche (i.e. a mean or ditzy cheerleader) or your character is only defined by one characteristic.

Still not sure?

If you are in doubt, then there is probably a chance you can make your character a bit more interesting.

Need a solution? Next Tuesday I will help you make your characters go from zero to hero like Hercules. Just don’t call me Phil. 

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