A lot of factors go into making a story three-dimensional. The reader needs to be able to feel like they're THERE, living the trauma, love, rejection, romance along with the characters. And what makes a story feel like something you might actually experience better than some annoying person who won't get out of your character's face?
(Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles)
This is something I've been working on in my second round of revising this month. Bringing supporting characters to life, giving them their own interests and motivations--without letting them take over the story (because let's face it, every supporting character wants to be the star). And actually, in books like Libba Bray's BEAUTY QUEENS, many supporting characters acting almost as one group main character does work.
On the other hand, IF I STAY by Gayle Forman is centered very much around one character, but Mia's story is told in large part by the memories she has of everyone who loved her (Spoiler Alert: she dies at the beginning of the novel). Mia is the narrator of the story, but her mother, father, little brother, and boyfriend, Adam, are the ones who make her truly come alive on the page.
What are some stories you feel are make-or-break based on their characters?
Emily Hainsworth is the author of THROUGH TO YOU, (Fall 2012 Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins), a sci-fi novel about a boy grieving for his dead girlfriend until he discovers she's still alive in a parallel reality--one where he's the one who died. For more information, visit her website.