8 Ways to Make Your Characters Relatable and Like-able
Even Villains Have a BFF
1. Give them a burden.
This can be physical helplessness or a mental or emotional disability of a sort. Observing a character battling against their very own shortcoming, wants, or confinements is something every viewer can relate to. When we see someone struggling, we are more apt to get emotionally involved in the story. We concern ourselves with that character and become curious as to how they are going to overcome.
2. Present the triviality.
When you consider amazing legends who are out to save the world, it very well may be difficult to consider them to be believable people, a real person who could really exist. Spiderman, Superman, Batman are all hard to imagine walking among us as the guys next door. They can end up emblematic mediums through which the story is instituted, and they lose that human component. One approach to make a character feel progressively human is to present the minutia of their past, their inclinations, or their regular day to day existence. When we look at these heroes in their normal personas, they become easier to relate to. Bruce Wayne's (Batman) parents being murdered is what led him to become the crime fighter he was. Clark Kent (Superman) was orphaned in the manner that his parents sent him away to Earth just before their own impending doom. Peter Parker (Spiderman) was yet another orphan turned hero when he was bitten by a spider and contracted spider-like abilities. Not all strong characters have to be orphaned, of course, but they, even villains, need something to break our hearts and something for us to respect in order for us to fully bond with them as a character and believe the story they have to tell us. We have to see things that make them human and not very important to someone, or someone that bad things are capable of happening to, in order for us to appreciate the good they have to offer.
When you think about it, we have a similar reaction to people in real life: If someone is always winning and nothing bad ever happens to them, we aren't generally impressed when more good things happen. When they are always doing the unbelievable, we aren't impressed when they do something else of the same magnitude. When we witness a person who is struggling and always being kicked down, however, finally win something against the odds, we take great pride in that for them, even if their accomplishments do not affect us personally. We are proud of them. We applaud them. Human psychology works the same way with fictional people. Make them fail or have a tragedy which has led them to where they are in the story.
3. Give them a chance to fall flat.
Disappointment is an integral asset for creating relatable characters. When we see a character who ends up crushed after a noteworthy battle, we get the chance to perceive how they react. We can appreciate their versatility or feel for their debilitation, however, we get the chance to see them in a not exactly gallant position that makes us pull considerably more for their inevitable triumph. A detective will not always solve the crime. A competitor will not always win the medal. A good guy will not always win the girl. In the real world, people are known to work their tails off to obtain something and still fall short. This isn't always due to their own actions. This can be because another character has played dirty in the background to prevent it, it can be because information that would change the turn of events has been left unknown, this can happen for any number of reasons. Failure is relatable.
4. Give them a code of ethics.
Strong characters are not only meant to have things happen to them which they respond to, but also should be proactively making things happen themselves. Even if it is something misfortunate they must work through, the character can use any small opportunity to make sound decisions based on personal beliefs to help them deal with the issue. Those beliefs don't have to be ones that we share or even agree with, but the character making decisions based on their personal experiences and beliefs in a way that makes sense to them is relatable. Even villains should have a code of ethics, or a belief system, they base their actions upon. A code of ethics give us the understanding of why they do what they do and that understanding leads to respect, even if we do not like the character on a personal level. We don't have to like them to relate to them but if we can relate to them, we are more apt to want to keep watching them. Hannibal Lecter is such a character. He is an evil character that most people would claim they "do not like," but even he had a moral code: He killed people who were morally crude, abhorrent, and repulsive, such as pedophiles. He didn't murder random innocent people simply for the thrill. He had reasons why and why not to kill, a definite place to draw the line. Such was evident when he called Clarice and promised, "I have no intention to call on you, Clarice. The world is more interesting with you in it."
5. Use humor and sarcasm.
Regardless of whether they're utilizing self-expostulating humor, giving a snarky evaluation of their circumstance, or simply cutting others down a peg, we cherish characters who make us snicker. Rosanne Conner would not have been a character loved by millions without her quick wit and sarcasm. That was her charm. Chandler Bing is another character whose wit and sarcasm won over millions. Maybe that is on the grounds that giggling is the main language more widespread than music, or maybe it's because we adore being diverted. Regardless, amusing characters with a sharp sense of humor that quickly flies out of their mouths are by far among the most love-able. Someone who makes us laugh quickly becomes our friend.
6. Enable them to know who they are inside.
A character who is imperfect, or even devious, ends up progressively likable when they recognize their inadequacies, regardless of whether they're attempting to transform them or are essentially cool with their quirks and shortcomings. Nobody likes the douche bag who is oblivious to the fact he is obnoxious and keeps at his antics. We are quickly turned off by it. However, we tend to make some allowances for the guy who knows he is an ass and calls himself out on it from time to time. It shows humility and potential for growth. Giving the character a "no doubt, I do that." minute can urge the audience to show them mercy. Admitting to your imperfections, oversights, or pessimistic inclinations makes other individuals like you more and consider you to be more grounded.
7. Make them kind.
Generosity, thoughtfulness, unselfishness, and other puritan attributes help us see a character as a "decent individual," and the vast majority of us either strive to be great or, if nothing else, appreciate when other individuals are. Many of us know someone that makes us say, "I admire that about you because I'm not like that and that's a good trait you have."
8. Give them agony and dread.
There is nothing in human life more relatable than agony and dread. We have all been scared, uncertain, and hurt at some point in life. Pain is, no doubt, something we can all relate to. We may not like that someone else is suffering but we can certainly relate to them when they are.