How to Write Empathetic Characters Without Boring Your Audience

If you want to be a published author, you’ll need to find a way to make your characters realistic and convincing. This includes adding flaws, believable conflicts and plausible reactions. It also includes having empathy for your characters regardless of how different they may be from you.

Know What it Means to Really Be Empathetic

Empathy is defined as being able to read others accurately. People who possess this quality are capable of more than merely sympathizing. They tend to understand the motivations of others. These characters are usually highly intuitive.

The first thing you want to do with your characters is humanize them. This means giving them emotions such as courage, frustration, desperation, excitement, etc. You also need to remember that human emotion is not always blatant. If your character is terrified because her best friend is being rushed to the hospital, she won’t necessarily become hysterical while explaining her own motivations. People in shock tend to become unresponsive and somewhat frozen at first. They may then try to distract themselves with some insignificant and repetitive act. Often, tears only come slowly.

Add One Flaw That Gets in the Way (or More!)

Give your character a personal flaw. Maybe it’s something major such as an addiction or a narcissistic personality. On the other hand, it could be something minor such as being constantly disheveled.

It’s also possible to make flaws attractive. For example, have you ever known someone voluptuous who exuded confidence about his or her appearance in spite of being routinely put down for being overweight? You could instill that trait into one of your characters.

Make sure not to use the flaw as an afterthought, though — that’s a quick way to get weak or boring characterization. Instead, try starting with a flaw and building your character around it.

Make Your Characters Three-Dimensional

Minor characters may come and go rather suddenly without giving the audience a chance to know much of anything about them. You do not want to do this with your main characters. Flesh them out.

Place your protagonist in a conflict that demands growth. You don’t want to make the challenge too easy. After all, without change, there is no plot. You should put a major conflict at the forefront of your story. It will set the tone from the outset.

You won’t engage your audience unless you add depth and humanity to your characters. This means considering things like whether a character has a vocation, is religious or displays personal idiosyncrasies. In fiction writing, characters often seem to develop voices of their own. The strong ones tell you what they’d do in a given set of circumstances.

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Are You an Indie Author? Here’s How to Get Your Book Reviewed

There are seemingly already enough obstacles to becoming published as an indie author, so it’s understandable that getting reviews may seem like adding another challenge. Reviews help set your published work apart from others because they help give it legitimacy. Though this is not an exhaustive list, mentioned here are some effective ways to help you receive reviews for your published work.

Use Your Own Website

When you have your own website, you can control what content you do and do not have on it. You can provide digital downloads of your books and either sell copies at a discounted price that is determined by you, or you can give away copies for free. The great part about having your own website is that by investing a little money in a domain name and using a turnkey program like WordPress, you can be online within a day and distributing your book all over the world. You can also be a guest blogger on other sites and link back to your author page.

Look to Relevant Influencers

Ask for an honest review of your book from someone who is at least fairly well-known and whose opinion is respected. 80% of consumers trust online reviews, and if they’re already following an influencer they admire, chances are they’re going to trust their opinion on your book. Use this trick to help validate your book with a review that your readers will likely take seriously. Publishers do this by getting reviews from other authors that readers love and respect. You can try to start there as well.

Give Away Free Copies

Sometimes you have to essentially buy reviews for your book by giving away free copies in exchange for an endorsement of your latest work. Though from a money standpoint it may seem like you have earned negative income by forking over a certain number of copies, you have in fact enabled other readers who are otherwise interested but not sure to go ahead and spend the money for a copy of your book. Think of this in much the same way as many popular brands giving away free product to consumers and thereby turn guinea pigs into the pied pipers who bring loyal readers marching to your online presence.

Pre-Sell Your Book

Sometimes you need to run a pre-sale opportunity to launch your book, and this can end up working in your favor because you have a chance to validate interest in your book before you commit fully to writing it. This gives you an opportunity to solicit ideas and feedback from your early bird participants to write the book they want to read and thereby receive the glowing reviews necessary to keep your book ratings high. To best implement this, you will need to run the pre-sale for a short time. Two weeks is common. It is a good idea to collect email addresses in the process. This allows you to keep contacting your list contacts to achieve a high conversion rate. Be firm about the cutoff for the pre-sale out of respect to those who took advantage of it.

With some creative thinking, you can achieve your dream of being a published author. For some, this will bring legitimacy to your writing talents. Getting started always seems to be the most challenging part. If you give it an honest try, though, you can achieve great success as an author. You have chance to differentiate yourself from others who have self published by taking extra steps to obtain reviews of your work. This is a good way to increase your chances of being successful when you publish.

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