- Hidden Depths. Characters without these are shallow. There is a place for shallow characters in fiction but they've got to be supported by those who are not. The character with hidden depths will surprise you as creator and your reader and should keep them reading, wanting to find out more. Sometimes it can be to see if that character will avoid disaster as their attributes and attitudes seem to be leading them that way. Sometimes it can be the obvious quiet guy going on to be the hero as opposed to the loudmouth (I like heroes like the quiet guy - for me these are more meaningful and realisitic). Shallow characters cannot do that, they are cardboard cut-outs, and other characters will be able to use that against them.
- Courage and Commitment. Courage is fine but real bravery is to keep on being courageous (you just have to look at the stories of carers to see how true this is). For me, a decent character will have that kind of courage whether they are facing monsters, going on a quest (or both!), or are coping with more everyday problems, but which are still enough to flummox lesser characters.
- A Sense of Humour. The characters are going to need it! Also characters (in life as well as fiction) are so much easier to identify with if they have a sense of humour. Once you've got your reader hooked on a character (and making it possible for them to identify with that character is a great way to go here), they will keep on reading.
What do I mean by character spotting? Firstly it is literally spotting those characters who will be strong enough to carry the story. Secondly it is spotting those attributes the characters will need to be able to carry that story. So what would I look for that would make me think this character is going to be good enough?
I'm Allison Symes and write fairytales with bite, especially novels and short stories.