You know how when you hear someone speaking, maybe a preacher, maybe a teacher, and it starts out so well and then...you...just...driffffttttt...offffffffffff.
Um, anyway. Sometimes, someone comes along and commands your attention. If you were lucky enough to attend the free (Yeah, that's right. FREE!) writer's conference at Agnes Scott College during the Decatur Book Festival, you may have been grabbed by any one of nine different writers!
Author N.M. Kelby grabbed my attention. There was no drifting off at all during her presentation on "How to Write Great Characters." She had so much good stuff to share, I don't know where to start. But according to this multi-published author, you should start your fiction story with a great character, because character-driven stories are selling.
And here's a list of what Ms. Kelby says fiction readers expect:
1. Your characters must either reveal themselves or change in some way. (Okay, that's standard fiction-writing procedure. But she had a lot to add. Which I'd remember if I took better notes.)
2. Readers want to identify with your hero. (Even with an unlikely hero, there must be something there the reader can relate to.)
3. Romances must be earned. (You can't tell me you don't feel like screaming when a romance is thrown in, all nice and tidy-like.)
4. Wrongs gotta be paid for, one way or another. (Does the word "guilt" ring a bell?)
There may have been a few others on the list, but that should get your great character started. Use dialogue and action to build your character, and write your heart.
Perhaps that was the real attention-grabber. Write your heart, and the great characters (and readers) will follow.
(Here's her latest books. Considering all the great info she shared (for free!), the least I can do is give her a shameless plug!)