Common reasons readers don’t care about your characters and what you can do about it.
Writers often think characters need to be likable, that they need to be nice people or good people. That is not necessarily the case. Readers care about a lot of characters that aren’t necessarily nice people or likable people, so you don’t have to worry about making your character nicer. Make readers more interested and more invested in what happens to your characters because that is what gets readers to keep reading.
You are never going to please everybody with your characters, and that is okay. If, however, you’re getting the same feedback over and over especially if you’re at the querying stage and agents or publishers are telling you they don’t care about your characters, they can’t relate to your characters or they can’t connect to your characters, it could be that you’re not really conveying your characters personalities. Know your characters personality so well that just everything about the character is clear.
One thing that can help a lot is distance from your story.
Another trick that can help is to have somebody else read your first chapter and ask them what they think about the personality of this character, and what are their personality traits. As a little secondary tip, make sure that you’re not showing personality traits that are not indicative of who your character is because you can confuse the reader.
Another reason readers might not connect to your characters is that you’re showing their most negative traits but you’re not explaining why they have those traits. You do want to give some kind of indication of why a character might be acting in a particular way. A hint of why they have the negative trait can help the reader to relate to them and not to see them as negative. It can make them more interesting to read about because then you want to learn more details and more depth about why this character has come to be this way reason.
Another reason that readers might not connect to your characters is that you’re not indicating what the character wants. It is really hard to connect with a character who seems content and happy with life and is there just sailing through. The reader really doesn’t have much incentive to care about them because they seem like they’re doing just fine. Make sure that you’re showing what your character wants or what they want to be different about their life because that’s what will get the reader interested.
Another reason that readers might not connect your character is you’re not introducing a problem. If your character wants something, there needs to be something that stands in their way. A conflict occurs when the character wants something and then something stands in the way of what they want. Make sure that those obstacles are there because readers will want to see how your character overcomes them.
Another reason readers might not connect your character is that your character is a stereotype. For readers to connect or find those characters interesting, the key is just to combine in unexpected or different ways and to not put typical characters into typical scenarios.
Another reason that readers might not connect with your characters, if you’re not putting the reader in the characters shoes. This can be a very easy thing to overlook, but sensory information is really important. Readers want to feel like they are right there next to the character and that can be very difficult to experience if the characters senses are described in a very bland or distant way or if they’re not described at all. The five sense descriptions of your characters help the reader to feel connected and as if they’re there in the character’s body and they can kind of experience things as the character experiences it.