Good characterisation is crucial if you want people to identify with them and keep reading.
Just conjuring someone up and putting them in a situation won’t work if that’s all there is. They have to be more than cardboard cut outs. It’s what they do that draws us in to their story, more than what they look like or how they think.
Your characters are only likely to come alive if you give them, well character.
Even when writing from the viewpoint of an animal as many children’s authors do, it still needs to have a personality they can laugh or cry with, like enough to root for, and basically feel so involved they can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Depending on the type of story it is, you have to take people out of their comfort zone, and put them into situations they probably wouldn’t normally find themselves in. The story comes from the way they deal with it.
Of course your characters have to have a background. Things that have happened in the past to make them who they are. They’re likely to come across as two dimensional otherwise. But seeing their fears and flaws makes them more believable, and plays with our emotions at the same time.
No one is really all good or all bad. We’re all made up of emotions after all. Readers want to know why characters behave the way they do. Maybe make them think about what they’d do in their place.
We none of us know how we’d react given a certain situation. If we or our loved ones are placed in danger for instance. The world is full of stories of people who’ve done the most extraordinary things in the face of adversity. We accept them because they’re real.
With fiction, you can only imagine how someone would feel or react. But you have to keep it real and within that person’s capabilities. If someone is in a wheelchair for instance, you can’t suddenly provide a miraculous recovery that solves all the problems. Not only would that stretch the realms of credibility too far, the reader would feel cheated.
We all like to think we’d do the right thing when necessary. Be counted on when needed. Fictional characters give us the chance to not only question ourselves and our own motives, but show anyone is capable of behaving the way they do. For good or bad. That’s what makes us what we are.