I just finished reading Rachel Ann Nunes's latest novel, IMPRINTS, and since Nunes did such a great job with characterization, I thought I would combine "What She Did Right" with a new update to my list of "Must Haves". Gary Provost titled this Must Have as "Humanity" in his "Seven Beacons of Excellent Writing," but I simply refer to it as people.
"Humanity" or "people" means that if you're writing an article or other piece of nonfiction, infuse your information with personal stories about people. Human nature--a reader's nature--is to be interested in other people, their lives, their stories, and especially their CONFLICTS, so using bits of human drama in your writing will draw your readers into your topic.
The same works with fiction. Think about it. While plot points and story events definitely play a roll in catching a reader's attention, it is the character, herself, that captures a reader's heart. It's part of what makes readers love a story; and Rachel Nunes, as I said before, created such a unique, sympathetic character in Autumn, that I just had to use her as an example.
First, Autumn is memorable because she's much of what most of us are not: a barefoot-only, health-food fanatic who was raised by hippies. BUT, the most important parts of Autumn--her caring for others, her personal and spiritual gifts, and her desire to make a difference in this world--are characteristics we can all connect with. All of that, along with Autumn's story, makes her a great character I won't soon forget. More than that, Autumn has given me a new perspective into the hearts of people who seem so different than I am, helping me to pause just a moment longer before I judge another based on their appearance. Thank you, Rachel. Well done!