Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me or ramble on about a book or non-book related topic. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. This feature was previously known as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.
Last week I talked about what I like to see in romance. When writing that post I realized I was basically listing things I often would point out in my reviews and as most of my reviews have four different sections: story, characters, romance and world building. I thought it would be a good idea to have a post focus on each of those. Today I am going to talk about characters, basically I am going to talk about what kind of characters I like to read about, what makes me like a character and which points I might make in my reviews when it comes to characters. I think characters are very important in a book, because if I don’t like or care about the main characters it can be hard to enjoy the book overall.
What Characters do I Like to Read About?
- Realistic. One of the things I like most is when a character is realistic. I initially had a post planned about why I prefer realistic characters over strong characters as I often notice in other people their reviews they mention if a character was strong, while I primarily focus on if they are and acted realistic. I am not sure if I ever will write that post, but basically I want characetrs to feel realistic. I want them to feel real and can imagine they are real people. I don’t want to roll my eyes when they do something someone would never do in real life. It’s okay to be afraid or whiny sometimes, as long as the character feels real to me. I want to be able to imagine this person really existing and not only saying and acting like people do in books, but not in real life.
- Likeable. I know likeable is a very vague concept and I can’t really explain what makes a character likeable, but what I mean is that when I like a character that’s a good thing. I might not agree with the decisions a character makes or what they do, but as long as they are still a likeable character I probably will enjoy reading about them.
- Complex/ Depth. Complex characters are my favourite type of characters to read about, you can’t simply describe who they are in a short snetence as they have layers and react differently in different situations. They have depth and aren’t just a pretty face or the happy friend, they have more layers than that. I like reading about complex characters as there is more to discover and I like that. I also don’t believe that real people are that simple to describe, so complex characters also feel more real to me, which ties in with the first point.
- Relateable. This isn’t a must, but it certainly helps when I can relate to a character. The more aspects a character and I have in common, the easier it is to relate to that character. I often mention whether I can relate to the character, but even if I can’t I can still like the character. But if I do relate to a character it often makes me like that character more too.
- Flawed. I like characters who are flawed, not only does it make them more realistic and relateable, as most people are flawed and I like to read about character who are flawed as well. I like knowing they aren’t perfect, or are afraid sometimes or make mistakes. It also makes them a more interesting characetr in my opinion.
- Caring. I like characters who are caring and care about other people. It’s hard to care about character who doesn’t care about anything. Mostly what I like is seeing about who and what they care most and how that affects their personality and how they act.
- Animal Lovers. Being an animal lover myself, I have a soft spot for characters who love animals and care about them. I also like it when animals play a part in the story.
- Surprise Me. I like it when a character can surpise me, preferable in a good way. Overal it’s nice to know a character, but they still are able to susprise you.
- Have a reason/ motivation. I like it when I feel and get insight into the reasons and motivation of a character and why they act a certain way. Usually with the main character this is done well, but less so with side characters. I often feel that side characters or even villains act a certain way to get the main to react, but there’s no reason or motivation behind it. I want characters to have a reason for acting or behaving in a certain way. I want them to have a motivation for the things they do. This also ties in with my first point again, I want the side characters to feel realistic as well.
- Have their own life. This mostly applies to side characetrs. I sometimes feel that side characters their lives are on a standstill unless they interact with the main characters. I like getting the feleing that side characters have their own lives and that things do happen in their lives even if the main character isn’t there.
- Thoughts and Feelings. One of the things I like most about reading is getting in another person their head and reading about what they think and feel. I am very interested in people and how they experience live, but the only way to get a taste of this is by reading. Reading gives me a way to get into another person their head. So that’s why I like to get a feel for their thoughts and feelings. Also why I like first eprosn perspectve as in that case there’s usually more focus on this, I ofte feel closer to the thoughts and feelings of that character. I like characters who thoughts and feelings we get to know as opposed to people who only act and talk.
- Past, present and future. I like characters who have a past, present and future. Yeah there I go again with the vague descriptions. What I mean with this is that I like to know or realize that characters have a past and future, beside the present. In a book we often only come in contact with what’s happening now, but getting hints of what happened in the past or what will happen next is one of the things I like and again what makes characetrs feel more real to me. I want to realize that there are things that happened in a characters past and see how those still effect their lives now and how what they do now can influence the future. A reason why I like epilogues as they give me a glimpse of their future.
- Stay in character. I like it when everything a character does fits with his or her character. I like it when character surprise me, but I don’t like it when they do something that doesn’t fit their character or what we know of them.
- Relationships with other characters. I think a character relationships with others and how they interact with them can say a lot about a character and I like to read about characters who have connections to other people and how those influence their character and behaviour.
- Characters I care about. When I care about the characters it often makes me feel more invested in the story and what happens to the characters. Often with books I DNF I point not caring about the characters or story as one of the things that made me DNF the book. While when I care about the characters I often enjoy the book as a whole more.
Not every character needs to have all of these, but there are some of these that are very important in whether I like a character or not, mostly if they are realistic and likable. Usually one of these things listed here can already make me like a character, but the more things of this list a character has the more I probably like them.
I do agree with realistic characters, and ones that can make you relate to them, most because they’re flawed, are caring or definitely are believable about their thoughts and feelings. This is a great in-depth post Lola on the different types of elements that can make a character likeable.
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Thanks Jeann! I thought it would be interesting to write about what characetrs I like to read about. Having the characetrs be flawed is probably one of the easiest way to have me relate to them as everyone has their flaws.
As I grow older and grow as a reader I now seem to have preference for characters who are older and have “lived”, made regrettable choices and/or are in the process of correcting them. Characters who fall on the gray area, who are faced with moral dilemmas and are flawed like you said.
I guess it bottom lines on the relatable part. Unless we understand what their motives are, they will remain one dimensional fictional characters
I agree I think having the characetr be relatable is one of the most important parts and by getting insight into their motives, thoughts and feelings they will come alive and feel like real characters. I feal that now that I am older I do appreciate books with older characetrs more than I did a few years ago, although I still enjoy and read YA and MG books as well. Having character make mistakes or regrettable choices and then try and correct those is one of the things I like seeing in books as well.
I think you’ve pretty much covered it all, Lola! haha! The thing about “likable characters” is that it’s subjective! One person likes a certain kind of character and the next person hates it. I find that fascinating and I am glad there are so many different personality types 😀
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I agree what makes a likeable characetr and even a relatable character can be evry subjective as everyone has different thigns they look for in characetr and different aspects that make it easier to relate to characters. I also think that is what makes talking about books so interesting, we can read the same book and still experience it very differently and like and dislike different aspects about it.
I love characters that loves animals 😀 I also love those that aren’t perfect. There has to be something that they are not good at, but I don’t like a character who is self-deprecating. I want to see how a character overcomes their flaws. That’s more realistic and interesting to read. I also love those who shares a good friendship with the side characters, where the sidekicks are given importance, too.
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I have read a few books with a selfdeprecating characetr where it was doen well, I think the key is to not overdo it. A little is okay, but not too much. I think having a character be flawed or not good at something makes them more realistic and relatable and definitely more interesting to read about. Seeing how they overcome or work with their flaws or still achieve things even tough they have flaws is great to see.
And that’s a good point, their relationships with side characters and having the side characters come alive too is something I like to see as well.
I like realistic characters as well. Although when it comes to my heroes, I would much rather have them damaged. I love a good damaged hero that’s redeemable.
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I think that if a character is damaged or has some kind of flaw it makes them more realistic, so I don’t think it’s one or the other. I do agree with you that I enjoy the kind of stories with a redeemable damanaged hero.
Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: What Characters do You Like to Read About?
I definitely like realistic characters. I can’t stand it when I have zero connection with a character because they are completely unbelievable. I also tend to really enjoy badass characters, especially females! GIRL POWER! Also characters that are loyal and don’t screw over their friends are always enjoyable for me to read about. I’ve read far too many “mean girls” type of stories, and they just really get under my skin. Great post! 🙂
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I definitely appreciate a loyal or honest characetr, the mean girls type of stories don’t really work for me either, although luckily I haven’t read as many of those yet. If a characetr acts too unbelievable it can be really hard to form a connection with them.
I definitely need to have a likable character. Not perfect by any means, but I have to like the main character. If I don’t, I can’t get into the book. I also like them to be realistic and well-developed.
And I adore animal-loving characters. So much fun, right! I also have a soft spot for quiet heroines in books.
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It’s hard to get into a book if you don’t like the main character, although other aspects can compensate for that, but I definitely prefer a likable main character. The quiet heroines can be great too.
I love this post Lola!! Really fun to read and I definitely agree about the points you make.
The thing that makes me love a character even more than being real and caring is when they are also book-addicts. Like for example Kat in the Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout. She’s a book blogger and from the moment I read that I loved her character. 😀
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It’s always fun when a main character shares one of your hobbies. I often instantly like characters who like to cook or read as well.
I agree with pretty much everything you said. I like soft hearted characters even if they come off as gruff and mean.
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Those characters who come acros as gruf and actually are softies inside are great to read about!
Well, just like with the romance, it depends on my mood and the story. I like reading about characters I can relate to and that I share characteristics with. I know, so narcissistic. lol. But I also love a good unlikable character when it fits. I do LOVE a smartass, though. If a character is funny, then I’m super happy.
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I think mood definitely can influence things and sometimes I can like a character more or less depending on my mood, but these are more general trend that usually work for me.
I think it’s normal to enjoy reading about character who are similiar to us as it’s easier to relate to them. I love reading about characters who like food or love to cook as I a the same and it just makes me feel more connected to them and like I understand them better because of that similarity.
Funy characters can be a lot of fun to read about, although I do think it’s very difficult to convey humor in a book. Sometimes it doesn’t work.
Had to chuckle when you said that you want realistic and they don’t necessarily have to be ‘strong’ characters. It made me realize that I use the word a lot in my reviews, but I use it more than one way to describe the characters. I use it to mean literally that they are strong, but I also use it in a more vague sense to mean my opinion of the depth of the character the author has written. I will say that I prefer a strong character that isn’t necessarily flawless, but they grow.
I also enjoy and appreciate characters with shades of gray in them which is why sometimes it is the villain who ends of gaining my attention the most in a story. Some authors can write a well fleshed out villain. Which also leads to minor characters. I, too, enjoy when they have a backstory and aren’t just props for the main characters.
Nice analysis of characters, Lola!
I always find strong such a vague concept and I don’t like how some people use it as I also like to read about weak characters sometimes. I do like how you say a strong character can have flaws and it’s more about growht.
I sometimes do mention a character grows or changes, but I usually avoid the word strong as I have negative associations with it. I think my dislike for the word strong is a bit personal as well. I don’t like using the word strong as meaning that they don’t have flaws or fears or they hide those and if they have pain push through it just because. It’s okay to slow donw or take a break now and then or admit you’re afraid or can’t do something.
A fleshed out villian can be very interetsign to read about! I love fleshed out characters and shades of grey, it makes thigns mroe interesting and real. It’s the best when minor characters have their own story as well and are fleshd out.
Omg I agree with so many of these. This is the definition of a PERFECT character for me. SQUEE. Well, except I really like characters who love and care about their families. That makes me squishable and happy. I can never get onboard with the unlikeable characters. *sigh* I NEED to relate and like the characters in order to be invested in the story.
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It can be fun to read about characters who care about their families, but I also don’t mind reading about families with some conflict in them. If I don’t like the character it’s much harder to get into the story, although a very well done story and world building can sometimes make up for unlikeable characters.
Great topic. I’m a very character driven reader. I like a lot of variety to keep me interested. I like to have some characters funny, some really smart, some nerdy, some dominate, some more submissive, etc. I do love animal lovers. I need an author to write well developed characters. I have to like at least some of the characters in the story, but I don’t have to like all of them, but I have to care if at least some of them live or not. Great topic.
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I am also pretty character driven, although there are some cases where the world building, romance, setting and/or story can make up for less good characters. I agree even if you don’t like them all it’s still ncie if you at leats care about them or they have some personality or depth.
Lots of good points here, Lola! In fact, I’m going to bookmark this later and use some of this in my character development sheets that I write before I start a novel! Characters are always a balancing act. I definitely try to go back and forth and then come to an equilibrium. It’s hard work, but fun.
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Thanks! I am glad you found it helpfull! I always like thinking about topics like this and what makes it work for me or not. I cna see how characters would be hard for authors to write, especially with how every reader likes different things.
I think you’ve covered it all here Lola and I agree with so much of it. The biggest for me is realistic characters, that’s make or break for me. If I don’t believe in them, I’ll often abandon the book. And that covers everything from the way they talk, to the way they interact, to the way they behave.
One thing that doesn’t bother me though is whether or not I like a character. I often love to read about characters I hate (like Gone Girl). It’s a way for me to get inside their head and it gives me fresh perspectives that I’d never have thought of otherwise. I like knowing what makes people tick!
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Same here, if a character acts realistic or not can really make or break a character for me. If a character act too unrealistic it can really get me out of the story. And indeed sometimes it’s okay too to read about characters you don’t like and read about what makes them tick, as long as a character is well developed and interesting I cna definitely enjoy reading about character I don’t like. Although in general I enjoy a book more if I do like the characters. Although I don’t have to like all characters or like the characters in ever book.
Love it, especially the ones about them having their own lives, realistic more than strong, those that surprise me, and those with motivation. In a book, I know there will always be a cool side-character. I mean, I’m expecting one. And these characters don’t overshadow the protagonist, but are still so amazing because their lives don’t revolve around the protag, they have their own motivations, and they are also flawed. They’re not the friends who just appear to help the protag and don’t have lives of their own! Like Stiles in Teen Wolf or Hester in The School for Good and Evil. They are awesome non-MC characters and I love them 🙂
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I like books where the side characters are also great characters and I want to know about them as well and see how they are real peoepl too. I have read a few books where the side characters stay mroe to the side, but I prefer those books where we see more from the side characters.