By Julie Daines
I've been reading several stories lately with struggling characters. And by struggling, I mean characters that are inconsistent and hard to believe.
If you are struggling to make your characters come across as real, believable, and engaging to readers, here is a little piece of advice that might help.
Establish what each character's motives are. What is the one thing that that character wants, and why? Once you figure that out, everything a character does should be to achieve that goal. Even if the choices they make aren't always the smartest, in the character's mind they should be to achieve that one, all important goal. This will keep your character consistent and believable.
Your main character's objective should be obvious to the reader in the first chapter.
Example: The Hunger Games
What one goal of Katniss's drives the story forward and is at the root of nearly everything she does? Her desire to protect her sister, Prim. She volunteers to go to the games in place of Prim, and she wants to win not just to survive, but so she can be there for Prim.
Example: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
What is it that Mary longs for? To see the ocean, and thus have a connection with her mother. This is what drives Mary out when the walls are breached and keeps her going. In my opinion, this comes across as a selfish motive, but at least it is consistent. And let's face it, teens often have selfish motives.
Example: The Lord of the Rings
What objective does Frodo have in his heart that keeps him going on his impossible quest? The Shire. He wants to get back home to the Shire, and he wants the Shire to be safe and uncorrupted by Sauron.
You have to find your character's Shire.