I recently sent my first manuscript ever to three different publishing houses. They each rejected the manuscript, but one was very helpful in their feedback. They said, “although your characters are based on real people, the characters are not as well as developed as they could be.”
I am so grateful for their feedback. My characters were not strong enough and this is where I need to improve on. I want my characters to seem as real as possible. Real means with weaknesses and strengths. As a perfectionist, I have a tendency to make my characters “too perfect.” But because they are “perfect” they are boring and not interesting.
I am so glad I have the opportunity now to go through a book I have already read again to help me understand where my characters fail. It is called “Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint” by Nancy Kress. I am excited to learn where I went wrong and to make my characters stronger in the rejected manuscript and to create amazing characters on my current work in progress.
Kress says, “. . . without believable and interesting characters, you don’t really have fiction at all. You may have names walking through a plot, but without the essential animation of the character, a historical novel becomes mostly a history text, a mystery becomes a police report, and science fiction becomes a speculative monograph. Character is key.”
I love those words: character is key. I realize that my characters are two dimensional. They are not Anne of Green Gables, Katniss Everdeen, Eowyn of the Riders of Rohan, or Elizabeth Bennett. It is hard to swallow after a year of work, but it also wonderful to know that I can improve my characters. When I make dynamic characters, then my next manuscript will be so much better.
Despite my disappointment of publishers not accepting my manuscript, I am excited to learn how to create better characters and I can’t wait to get started.