I was over at The Dumbest Blog Ever (which seems to me to be increasingly misnamed) and read a three-part western story he had written called Shooter and the Kid. He had based it on a twenty-five hundred year old Greek tragedy called Philoctetes by Sophocles. I recognized the name Sophocles from having worked at Borders Bookstore but otherwise I had no idea what the story was going to be about. I could have asked Der Google beforehand but I wanted to see how the story held up for itself. When I finished reading the story I did look it up and found a fairly clear and concise summary of the play here.
What I discovered was that he had impeccably captured the characters. It was almost shocking in a way. I mean, it was like he knew them and had just come back from having lunch with them. He took those old
Geeks, Greeks and moved them over two thousand years into the future and they were still the same. Now granted, he does seem to be into all that mythology stuff and the Trojan War and Macedonia which is all Greek to me, but I don’t think that was it. I think it was the characters that I enjoyed meeting. And that is the note I want to leave with writers everywhere.
If you are writing for me as your audience, make your characters be real people. I can forgive a lot of things that writers do as long as the characters are real people. It could be a bug-eyed monster or a cowboy or a soldier, but make the person real. In my humble estimation all great books are about people. Even Bible stories are all about people. So, whether you are a long-term established author or have never even thought about writing until now, remember, I want to meet your non-marshmallow peeps.