on Writing Forward:
We see ourselves in a story’s characters. We see people we know—people we love, people we hate, people we fear, people we admire, and people we want to emulate.
We love characters, loathe them, judge them, take their sides, or stand in opposition to them. We cheer them on or boo them. We celebrate them, and sometimes we mourn them. We form relationships with them, even though they’re just figments of some storyteller’s imagination.
Characters are the heart and soul of a story. We care about a story only to the extent that we care about its characters. In order for us to connect with characters, they need to do more than move the plot forward. Characters require depth and complexity. Who are these characters? What do they want? Why do they want it? What’s standing in their way? Realistic characters come with all the flaws, quirks, and baggage that real people possess. They’re not just names on a page; they have pasts and personalities, and each one is unique.
Perhaps most importantly, characters must fit purposefully into the stories they inhabit.