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I was thinking of ways to make my audience like my characters.

I always try to figure out my target audience and make the main hero as relatable as possible.

Quite often do I embrace their integrity. They are empathetic and they help those in need. They would be the one person that stands out and does something brave. Basically, they are good people.

However I think there may be more to that. Some of the methods I mentioned could end up making the story a cliche. I wonder if there are more sophisticated techniques to build a character, that will make the reader root for them.

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  • "They are empathetic and they help those in need. They would be the one person that stands out and does something brave. Basically, they are good people." Do they have any flaws? May 6 at 20:30
  • @DM_with_secrets yes, various. I had a character that was an arrogant young man. Also one that was unambitious or simple-minded.
    – Rico
    May 6 at 20:34
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    I'm a big fan of the redemptive character. We've all done bad things, sometimes for good reasons, and then felt badly about it afterwards. They empathize with the screw-up, and also with the integrity of trying to fix it. Suffering is also very empathy-generating, and most redemptive characters are made to suffer for their sins.
    – DWKraus
    May 6 at 22:33
  • What makes a character likable? Personality? Experiences? Looks? If you're an avid reader, what makes the character worthy of your attention? May 7 at 12:40
  • @ArtemisSilver that's what I want to explore ;)
    – Rico
    May 8 at 13:15
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Readers tend to find characters relatable when they want or need things very strongly, and are active about pursuing them. It helps, of course, if they have admirable traits, or goals, but even anti-heroes can be compelling, when they are proactive.

It's because we're all interested in having an impact on the world, and securing the things we want or need, so watching someone else go about that will draw us into a narrative.

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Likeable traits

Deeds and talents are often sprung from the imagination of an author, but the main point of the story is how the characters achieve the audience's approval.

Step one: Relate

Connections between the reader and the character could be the first step to your goal. For example, if the author decides to make his/her main character an orphan that was often bullied, people would naturally pity him or feel connected to him.

Step two: Flaws

Not all characters are perfectionists. If you start out with a character having amazing powers and great at everything, many people would be thinking 'If he is so good at everything, why do we need to commiserate him?' Plots are set to have the character learn something from their adventures and ordeals. Flaws are also a good way to tone down the arrogance level.

And @Rico W, you were right about there was more than just the label 'Good'. Not everything should have the good guys have a bad past and the bad guys having a good past. The 'Bad' characters might have a reason to become evil and the 'Good' characters might turn evil later on.

And lastly, you need to determine who do you want the reader to like and to trust. Also don't pick favorites among your 'Good' guys. Jealousy might arouse in the story.

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