September 28, 2020

Readers and Characters

Susan Reichert

Do you know your characters in your story? Do you really know your characters–everything about them? Would your answer be, “Well, sure, I created them, I know each character”?

Perhaps you might be surprised to learn you do not know the characters as well as you think.

Do you remember reading a book, and found yourself wondering about things pertaining to the character/characters?

You see readers are interested in the who more than the what. To a reader the character becomes more real than fiction. That is why we hate for the story to end; we are saying goodbye to someone we came to know. We walked alongside; the ups and the downs, we were right there with them and experienced the same emotions.

If the writer does a good job in knowing their character/characters, the reader will walk into the story

One of the best ways to write good characters of course is to interview them! As I have written before. when you can step outside of the role as creator/writer and step into the role of the reader you will ask yourself what would the reader want to know?

This is one of the reasons a writer can write a series. Steve Bradshaw, forensic Mystery/Thriller author, wrote Bluff City Butcher (the first book in his Bell Trilogy.) He had a character in that book, which carried over to the second and third books. One of the characters in the first book, absolutely captured me. There was just something about the character that made you pull for him. I read all three and wanted more books with that character. I told Steve I wish he would write more books with that character.

The Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck is a book a reader feels what Tom Joad felt coming home and finding his home disserted, family moved out. Who wouldn’t be able to relate to Ma Joad, trying to hold the family together; Pa Joad becoming a broken man losing his home and livelihood?

Steinbeck was able to create fictional characters that became real people to the readers who could feel what the characters were going through. He said, "I've done my damnedest to rip a reader's nerves to rags."

Susan Reichert, editor of Southern Author Services, Suite T and retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine.

Author of God's Prayer Power and Storms in Life.

Collierville Christian Writers Group (CCWriters) facilitator/president.

Susan lives in Tennessee with her husband Greg. They have four children.


  1. Characters are my favorite part of any story. For my own, I can spend a couple of months just getting to know them prior to writing to book.

  2. That's why your books are so good. You know your characters!!!

  3. I have to know who my characters are when they walk on the page--what wounded them in the past to make them fear love, that sort of thing.

    I don't know everything about them at that point, though. I'll have to start writing to discover more about them. Enjoyed your post!

  4. Great post, Susan! Digging into my character back story before I start writing is a must.

    1. Thanks Jill. Knowing their back story is important. It is also what makes the story we are writing better for our readers.
      Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks Patricia for sharing with us what you need to know about your characters when they walk on the page.

    It is interesting how we can know so many things about our characters when we start and while we are writing learn so much more about them.