By definition, fiction isn’t real. But quality stories can have a profound impact on the reader, and the best stories always have relatable characters. Everyone has different feelings about each character, and the way the book resonates with the reader is what makes it special. Similarities between real people and a fictitious character is what makes the character relatable.
Characteristics of reality in fictional storylines is what makes a character believable. Readers will see themselves in a character if he or she has realistic character development and traits.
“What makes a character memorable for me is if the character has emotional depth and if in some way I can relate to them,” says Ainsley Clark, an avid reader. “I’ve found that characters who were just thrown there for the sake of plot never really stuck with me; however, if the character has emotional depth they stick with me even if I didn’t necessarily like them.”
The journey of character development, or how characters change throughout a story, should resemble realistic tendencies enough that the reader can compare the storyline to their own personal experiences. For instance, a fictional character was going through the stages of grief, the reader may be able to compare this to when they themselves suffered a loss. Characters will resonate if readers can see qualities or traits that he or she possess in a fictional setting. If both people share a common trait or flaw, such as courage or perseverance, that character will be more relatable- especially when the character has a fatal flaw, because it is imperfection what makes he or she human.
“…I need to be able to relate to them, every character has their flaws and I’ve found that characters who share similar flaws with me tend to be more memorable for me,” says Clark.
Although similarities will make the character resonate with readers, it is the differences between reality and fiction that make the character interesting. The character’s storyline and development should not be so familiar that it seems boring to the reader. He or she still needs their own identity and sense of individuality on top of being relatable. A character’s flaws and weaknesses, such as a questionable moral compass, can provide a distinction between the reader and the character. The setting of the story is also a great factor into a character’s uniqueness, especially in the fantasy genre. Different time periods, either historical or a future dystopian era, will help separate the character from realistic normalcy because the setting is not as easily recognizable.
Lives are easily influenced by works of fiction. Fictional characters that impact readers are the memorable ones, the characters that people will relate to. Books educate people and make them question their environment, but most importantly, they inspire people to make a difference. They will have the greatest influence with relatable characters because they will evoke emotions in the reader.