Believable characters

I just finished Laura Spinella’s Beautiful Disaster.  It’s about a woman, Mia, who was madly in love with a drifter guy, Flynn, when she was in college.  He vanished, and twelve years later she’s mostly moved on with her life.  Then he comes back into town, gets hit by a car and knocked into a coma, and she stays at his side.  The story is split between the present and their relationship in the past.  While it’s well-written, the entire time I was reading I couldn’t figure out, why did Flynn love Mia?  We’re told again and again that she’s smart and gorgeous, and who wouldn’t want that, right?  But Flynn is so well-developed compared to Mia that I just can’t buy that’s all he’d want in someone.  Mia is pretty much blandly perfect and it just irked me the entire time I was reading.

Part of the reason, of course, is that I’m struggling with the same thing in my novel, The Lone Wolf.  There are two main characters, Kasey and Andrew.  Andrew is interesting, flawed but still mostly likable because his flaws just add to his character.  Kasey, on the other hand…  Kasey is giving me problems.  Serious problems.  She’s passive but she has a strong inner core, an unwavering devotion to her daughter.  The novel is about her growing as a person, into someone stronger, and I think that shows by the end.  But not in the beginning, and how many people will keep reading if they don’t like the beginning?

I’ve been working on this novel for over a year and a half; a year to write it, and going on 8 months of editing.  I know I need to just walk away, but I’m too stubborn.  I want to fix it, want it to make sense.  And each rewrite is getting me closer to what I want it to be.  So maybe in a few months, when I’ve hit the two-year mark, I’ll be able to let it go.  Maybe.

What are some of the things that you struggle with in your writing?  How do you make characters believable?

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