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Bob Mayer – Character: The People of your Story

New York Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer gave a great presentation during Craftfest at this year’s Thrillerfest XI. Please forgive my butchered amalgamation of his words and my thoughts. He touched briefly on the industry; and how it is constantly changing. The E-book market, despite claims to the contrary, is alive and well. Bob made a great point for new authors: Discoverability is key. You have to find the means to get you book out there.

The core of his session was on character development. Character, he said, is pre-eminent. While creating your story, remember emotion is more important than logic. Emotion is what draws the reader in and makes them feel part of the story.

When developing your story, what should you focus on: plot or character? The mission or the man? Stories about characters tend to be better stories. Goals are what characters strive for; motivation is why they are striving. Every character thinks the story is about them . . . so what is each character’s motivation? It must be believable to the reader.

Bob also pointed out how an author needs to identify what the pathological need of a character is. This shows how they would react in a crisis. He had a great chart he broke down into traits, needs, and flaws. These three areas need to be shown to have a well-rounded, believable character.


TRAIT                                    NEED                                     FLAW

Idealistic                              To be the best                   Naïve

Understanding where your characters come from is another important component in character development. What is the key point in their life? Flesh out your characters background as much is possible. It’s not necessary to tell the reader everything about your character, however. In fact, less is better.

When developing your protagonist, he should be reluctant, empathetic, and should have some type of negative quality. You also have to identify what’s at stake for this person. What happens if he fails? And know that if he doesn’t change throughout the story arc, he will fail.

How do you build a great antagonist? Your bad guy should be human, even likable. He should also have a motivation such that if the character is removed from the story, the plot collapses.

Thanks for sitting through my brief recap of New York Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer’s session on Character: The People of Your Story. For more on Bob, visit his website:




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