Friday, 6 July 2012



The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.
Meryl Streep

One of the main faults I had when I first started writing thrillers was that I did not understand the power of empathy. Oh, I knew what empathy was – after all I had spent many years of my previous life as a nurse! But in writing terms I never quite understood it’s power to connect with readers.

With my first efforts, I focused on multi-layered plot making it as full of chills and frights as I could. I made my main character a bit of a bitch and apart from overcoming the threat to her and her family I never made her particularly likeable. After this criticism of my story came from more than a few quarters, I looked afresh at other stories, comparing them to my own and realised they were right. Mostly main characters should be likeable even if they do some not so good things.

None of us know how we’d react if we were put in a life or death situation or were faced by a dreadful choice but we can’t help but wonder how we’d cope and that emotion – empathy - is the engine of all good fiction, not just thrillers. Of course it does mean that the heroine/hero characters must be likeable so we can root for them to succeed. Even superheroes and star trek characters have to have some human frailties for us to feel for them.

Thrillers may be fast paced, exciting reads but they still need to conform to basic story telling rules and the main characters need to connect with us, the readers.

Do you give your characters human faults that readers can relate to.


  1. A lovely post and I try to make the reader feel all my character's emotions, sadness, fear, anger and love. Have a lovely weekend.

  2. Very true, characters need to be likeable, which I try to do in my works. Most of the time, if I give up on a book or TV show, it's because I just didn't like or care about any of the characters enough to keep going.

  3. Yes, but I always wonder if it's enough. It's one of the hardest things about writing for me.

  4. Ah yes, it's so important that readers connect with and empathize with main characters, and yet this can be hard to pull off. Great post!

  5. Yes, I do my best to make the reader like my MC and become invested so they'll keep reading. I love it empathizing with characters in books!

  6. Creating characters that readers connect with is what keeps them reading until the last page. I do (try) to give my characters faults. I feel it's what makes them relatable.

  7. Thanks everyone for your kind comments! I guess we all 'love' to give our characters faults!!