How to create relatable characters – A guest post from author Catherine Ferguson

I’m delighted to say that I have partnered with Avon Books to bring you this guest post on how to write relatable characters from Catherine Ferguson.

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If you want to hook a reader into your story right from the beginning, you need to give them characters they can relate to. But how do you do that?

Make them vulnerable
A character in pain is very easy to relate to because we’ve all been there, whether the pain was physical or emotional. So make your characters vulnerable. Let us see them struggling against their own weaknesses or being an innocent victim of other people’s actions. Give them a deep fear of enclosed spaces and trap them in a lift!

Tell us about their quirks
A heroine will feel a lot more like a real person if we know about her little quirky characteristics and habits, and her unusual likes and dislikes.

Make them nice – but not too nice!
We all relate well to people who are basically good – those who are kind and generous and supportive. If this type of person finds themselves in danger, we are definitely going to be rooting for them. But on the other hand, you don’t want to make a heroine too much of a goody-two-shoes or too sickly sweet because most people aren’t like that. People are humans who have good and bad traits to their personality – and that’s the kind of character a reader will find it easy to relate to.

Write characters that are fun to be around
It stands to reason that the people whose company tends to be valued most are those with a generally positive attitude to life. People who whinge and whine and are a drain on your emotions? Not so much! So it follows that if your heroine tries to look on the bright side, despite the fact that her whole world is crumbling around her, you’re going to admire her and wish that you could be more like her. (Make her grumpy at times, though, otherwise she might come across as a bit of an irritating Pollyanna!)

Write characters who make us laugh
Most people like humour and we tend to gravitate towards those people who have the same sense of humour as us and make us laugh. It’s the same with characters in a book. A heroine who can make us laugh – whether with her witty observations on life or because she’s accident prone and knows it only too well – is going to be loved by most readers.

So ‘relatable’ characters tend to be those who come across as ‘real’ and ‘human’. It could be a heroine who lies to get a job but who adores her straggly haired rescue dog and is staunchly loyal to her friends. Or a hero who finds it hard to commit after being hurt in the past. We can all relate to these very human traits, positive and negative, and consequently we find ourselves naturally drawn into the characters’ stories . . .

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This guest post is part of the book blog tour for Catherine’s new book Love Among The Treetops. Check out the blurb:

Can love flourish amongst the tree tops?
When pastry chef Twilight Wilson was a young girl, she would hide from school bullies up in the treehouse at the bottom of her garden in her family home in Sussex. It was her special place, and even as an adult she still loves it.
So when her family tell her they can’t afford to live there any more, Twilight is devastated. Not only will they lose their home – but the treehouse too!

She comes up with a plan to save the family home – she’ll start up a cafe in the treehouse! It’s a brilliant idea, and excitement builds as she starts planning the menus, with the help of Theo – a rather attractive man from the gym. But when former school bully Lucy finds out the plan, she starts plotting – and opens her own rival cafe in the village!

Can Twilight save her family home? Will her friendship with Theo ever be anything more? And who will win the cafe wars?

Catherine Ferguson is back in this hilarious, heart-warming read perfect for summer.
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I’d like to thank Avon – especially Sabah Khan, and Catherine Ferguson for giving me the opportunity to bring this post to you.
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