Think of the distinct personalities of your friends and family and how they function in the world. Then divide them into one of the two groups listed below.
Group One: For the purposes of this conversation, we are going to say they are nice and good decent folks. They do what is expected in life, follow all the rules and never rock the proverbial boat. Most likely they don’t want to take any risk. Perhaps they don’t take any risks at all. Now, if one of these individuals happened to be the main character in a book, would she capture your interests enough that you’d want to keep turning the pages to see what was going to happen next in her routine life? Be honest. Probably not. Because that’s just it, their lives are too predictable. They never push beyond the status quo. They follow everyone’s advice and all the rules and that doesn’t make for very interesting reading.
Group Two: You never know what these risk-takers might be up to because they are dreamers and doers and they are not afraid to step outside of the status quo. They want to live full lives and have adventures. They follow their heart, dare to love whom they please, regardless of what others think. The day-to-day mundane routine of safe employment and lackluster relationships will never do for these live life to the fullest souls. They insist on steering the ship on this journey called life, even if they are uncertain of the outcome. Their flaws make them that much more relatable. As a matter of fact, we admire them more knowing that they are willing to risk failure or embarrassment. If they were main characters in a novel, we’d eagerly read each and every page, waiting to see their next move and silently cheering for them all the way to their end.
Character Agency: We’d all rather read about the Group Two characters. They are more interesting and we know that they will encounter challenges, defeats and possibly great victories. The plot moves at a steady pace because they are always battling obstacles, just like we do in real life. The skillful writer will have the engrossed reader rooting for them as they navigate their way through unexpected twists and turns as they strive to obtain their goals. We feel their loss and victories, because, regardless of the outcome, they aren’t passive victims of their circumstances and we admire people who put forth a valiant effort to pursue their dreams.
Ultimately, that’s what all readers want, in real life and in fiction: PASSION.
Anything less will be a disappointment and unfulfilled readers, never come back for more.