Three Characters to Dump

Three Characters to Dump at the Next Stop Light

Because books are such a concentrated environment each character (main and secondary) needs to be someone the reader can enjoy spending time with, or hate just enough to appreciate their demise. What a reader doesn’t want to do for 200 or more pages is be annoyed. Oddly enough, people who read for pleasure think the experience should be pleasurable. With that in mind – here are the three characters you don’t want to take on the journey.

The Brooder

A brooder can be sexy, mysterious and draw your attention, for the first five minutes. After that, they are a dead-zone where fun goes to die. Brooding characters are those isolated negative people who wander off by themselves and sit around thinking, not sharing, and not helping. They feel helpless in the face of whatever is happening and seemed determined to through life in a permanent pout.  They react – never act. Who wants to journey with a brooder? No one. Drop their introspective butt down the nearest garbage chute.

The Whiner

Who’s the most hated/ridiculed person in the entire Alien Quadrilogy? Private Hudson. This whining G.I. Joe does nothing but run around spouting cries and fear everywhere he goes. In one of his more over-the-top whining moments he even complains about the power.

“What do you mean, “*They* cut the power”? How could they cut the power, man? They’re animals!” 

Seriously, you’re facing an alien species who drools acid and has a little head inside their mouth and you’re worried about the electricity???  Ultimately, what did Private Hudson add to the mission? This famous line:

“That’s it, man. Game over, man! Game over!” 

Everyone was glad to see him die, just to stop the whine.  While a weak character or a needy one can enhance the drama for a short time, a character who gives nothing but despair and victimhood to the plot soon grates the reader.  If you must have a whiner, kill him/her in the first act.

The Drama Queen

You know that woman in the office who’s hair is always on fire? The one who finds something to shout about every single day? The one who constantly sees the world ending over someone’s stolen lunch or claims complete victory when she proves your copier count is wrong?  Do you like her?  No! Does anyone? No!

Drama Queens are characters who speak in constant exclamation points because their point of view is always hysterical, egocentric and out of control. They are the one who screams “We’re gonna die!” at every plot twist.  Drama queens don’t add to the drama – they add “melodrama.” So, if your book isn’t a satire or comedic look at something – delete the Drama Queen.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  All good characters have unique personalities, traits and things that we like and dislike. However, when the bad traits overwhelm everything else the reader decides he or she is the one who wants to abandon ship.