Last week we discussed characters portrayed in a sympathetic light. Another type of plot relies less on the character being sympathetic, but the reader is engaged because the plot itself is intriguing enough to keep reading. For instance, books can:
- Solve a murder. Some authors make plenty of money with a series following a detective’s career as he or she solves crime after crime after crime. Some fictional detectives are not especially likable. But here, that’s not the point. The puzzle is the point. Make sure the puzzle is compelling enough to need 300 pages to solve and that it’s hard for the reader to solve it before your big reveal.
- Take the arrogant protagonist down. Just as readers enjoy rooting for an underdog, some readers enjoy seeing a haughty character taken down. This can be a vicarious victory because they wish the protagonist was the hateful bully in their real life. These books are can be fun to read because we see the machinations behind the takedown. Or, if the reader is experiencing the book from the protagonist’s viewpoint, the tension is in the character’s fear and bewilderment; and the reader is kept in suspense. Again, the author wants to keep the reader guessing until the end.
- Redemption. Some characters deserve their rotten situations because they have made dreadful choices. If these choices were made because the character was a victim, they can help garner sympathy from the reader. But seeing a character grow from a terrible situation to a good one can be rewarding.
The best books involve a mixture of memorable characters and intriguing plots. Enjoy the journey as you create your own masterpiece!
What book have you enjoyed despite not liking the characters very much?
What is the best plot you’ve ever seen?
What tips did I miss?