My latest website poll asked readers to pick the top three (3) things they like to know about a character’s personal life.
Three answers got 60% of the votes, pretty much evenly split. So what were they?
(1) The first was a catchall response, basically saying they want to know as much detail as possible about a main character.
(2) The second answer is all about love!
Yup, readers want to know about a main characters relationship status. And, presumably, all the drama and/or lovely dovey stuff that comes with it.
(3) Third most popular response…
Mmmhmmm, readers love to hear about a main character’s personal foibles or eccentricities. Writers know a thing or two about that.
Next down the pack, at nearly 10% of the votes, readers want to learn about a characters entire family tree – parents, siblings, children. 7% want to know about friends. This surprised me. I expected friends – you know the trusty sidekick or frenemy – would rank higher than family. What’s Mary without Rhoda? Sheldon without Leonard?
At 6% were the duo of (1) pets and (2) wanting to know how a character spends their free time.
Interestingly enough, at the bottom of the pack were responses like: political leanings, health & medical status, hobbies, and spirituality. So it seems we want to know a lot about our main characters, just don’t go too deep.