A story is something that happens to someone you’ve been led to care about. If your readers don’t have emotional interest in your hero or heroine, then nothing else matters … not the plot, not the setting , nothing! And if your readers don’t connect immediately, they probably won’t connect at all.
The way to build an emotional bridge lies in the choices you make as you fashion the character and his fictional world. Before you make these choices, you must get to know your main character better than any real-life person. First establish a fictional biography, just like a job application for an intelligence agency – everything from physical appearance to educational background, favorite hobbies to preferred authors. You must determine what lies at your character’#s emotional core.
Once you have a solid understanding of your character and his/her goal you can devise a plot that reveals your character’s attempt to achieve it. What is it about him that will affect a reader immediately on an emotional level? You must provide your main character with at least one attractive attribute . Here are some specific character traits that create a bond with readers:
CURIOSITY : In John Updike’s “Flight” his character commands our sympathy by telling an incident with his mother when he was a youth. At the top of a hill overlooking their town she said: “Allan. You’re going to fly.” Everyone wants to know what she meant.
CONFLICTED CONSCIENCE: Readers relate to characters who try to do the right thing, even if they don’t always succeed.
ALTRUISM: Selfless characters who try to help others on an individual basis or involve themselves in worthy causes. Sometimes you might appeal to your readers’ natural sympathies for the underdog.
Once you’ve chosen your emotional magnet, you can devise a plot that will best reveal this trait. But don’t overdo the emotion. Excessive emotions seem unreal, so don’t drown your readers in emotion either. In fiction, create not just characters, but “care-actors”. If you establish an emotional bridge between your chief character and your readers early on, your audience will willingly cross into your fictional universe and want to stay.
My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is now available direct from me at the discount price of $20. Contact me at dwaysman”gmail.com I am always happy to hear your comments and to help you with any writing problems. Happy writing!