One of the highest compliments a writer can receive is that his/her characters “lived” in the reader’s mind. That means all the work and imagination the author put into these two-dimensional pages made them pop out and draw the reader into their fictitious world.
It can be daunting, though, to take on this task. When one picks up a book, he/she doesn’t know any of the characters or what point of life they’re in. Yet, the hope of a writer is for the reader to feel like good friends of them within a few chapters, so they want to see what happens next and share in their struggles and victories. That’s why I found it important in Husband in Hiding to give glimpses into the character’s personalities very quickly, instead of overly focusing on physical traits.
In the first chapter, I wanted to show the friendships between Wes and Minka, the Channings, and Cael. Meanwhile, I tried to give readers an idea of where they were in life to help them understand what they’d do subsequently. Having been married for four years, Wes was ready for him and Minka to take a new adventure, while her past experiences made her content with their life the way it was. Their individual views propelled them later on to make decisions that impacted their future, such as Wes’s restlessness making him meddle in Minka’s case. On the other hand, Minka comes to rethink her attitude towards accepting change when facing her life without him.
My favorite technique, though, to make characters seem real is dialogue. After all, that’s how we get to know each other in the real world. I base many of my character’s conversations on ones I’ve had—or would like to have!—with people in my life. That, in my opinion, makes them more realistic. Exchanges can be used for showing the dynamic between characters, as well as revealing developments in the story that may otherwise seem dry.
By staying true to one’s writing style and developing characters you yourself would like to get to know, your readers will likely fall for them and adopt them as their own. Authors are their characters’ first and foremost advocate, so the better their connection is with them, the better it will be with the audience. With just the right qualities and quirks, you can create personalities readers will think about even after closing the book.