We read books to follow the lives of characters, but we also learn from their journeys. If main characters aren’t relatable, how can readers learn from them?
One of the best things about main characters is how relatable they are to readers. What we see in characters is what inspires us to follow them. As readers, we make connections with how the characters feel and what drives them.
For me, characters are the most important part of any story. Although this may be different for every reader, I personally would continue reading a book I otherwise don’t like just because I enjoy reading about the characters. I have even stopped books halfway through because I could not relate to the main character because they seemed too perfect to me.
Here are three big things I think main characters should have in order to feel real and relatable to readers.
When a character is flawed, it shows that they are human and humans aren’t perfect. If readers only read about characters that are good at everything, it feels false. Flawed characters make stories more interesting. Giving characters flaws does not make them unlikable, but instead makes them realistic to readers.
Character flaws help to create realism while also building empathy from readers for characters. When characters overcome their flaws, it can inspire readers and encourage them.
I find it hard to follow characters that are blank, or are only there for the plot. One of my biggest questions is if a story’s main character can still be someone if there was no plot. Their personality doesn’t have to be likable, but it makes them who they are. what do they like? What are their goals, dreams, and ambitions? Even if it is something small, the point is that the character would still have a life without a plot driving them.
I don’t like main characters that are at a standstill. Growth is one of the best arcs in a story, where characters learn from their mistakes. I like to read about their inner conflict, about how their decisions affect their lives and the lives of others. As human beings, we don’t stay the same people. We change and we grow. This makes following characters that have the ability to grow relatable and often inspiring.
Main characters don’t have to change to grow. Growth can come in different forms: from the way they treat people around them to learning from their mistakes, there is no limit on how characters can grow.
Now, these are just my personal opinion on what makes main characters relatable, but it may be different for many others. What makes a character relatable to you? Let us know in the comments!