I have been thinking what I like about some books I have read recently and also what I don’t like. The result is that it’s characters that stick in the mind, that you feel empathy for and are shown with all their flaws and virtues. Jane Smiley is an author who really gets to the heart of a person. I have just finished “Some Luck” and am in awe of the detailed drawing of all her characters, each member of that large family told throughout the depression. Everyone of them was so enticingly complex that the story led you in and you really cared about them. I can’t wait to read the next book.
In contrast I read a recent fiction book on the troubles in Cyprus where the main characters felt like cardboard cut outs. The author writes a good story but it left me not caring about what happened. I felt little sympathy when my heart should have been bleeding for those caught up in such a terrible situation.
Now this leaves me with a job to do. Whereas I have always thought myself story driven I am very consious of how important the characters are too. Looking back did I take enough care to develop my characters? If not I need to make sure that I do in future.