A story is something that happens to someone you’ve been led to care about. If readers don’t have emotional interest in your protagonist, nothing else matters – not a clever plot, not a detailed setting, not a finely tuned tone. Nothing.
And if they don’t connect immediately, they probably won’t connect at all. How do you get your readers to build an emotional bridge? How do you make them concerned right away about your creation’s joys, fears, successes and failures?
The answer lies in the number of choices you make. First, you must get to know the hero/heroine better than any real-life person. Establish a fictional biography, like a job application – a full spectrum of details from physical appearance to educational background, favorite hobbies, preferred authors. What is the one thing that defines your character? What is his primary goal in life? Once you have the answers,you can devise a plot that reveals his attempts to achieve these goals.
Even if your main character is not altogether admirable, endow him with at least one attractive characteristic. Here are some specific traits that create a bond with readers:
CURIOSITY: CONFLICTED CONSCIENCE. ALTRUISM. Perhaps the most attractive trait is LOVE. If your character demonstrates the ability to love someone, readers will put up with many sins. Or you might appeal to readers’ sympathy for the underdog. Given your choice of the “emotional magnet”, you can decide on a plot that will best reveal it. Ultimately in fiction, one major truth is revealed and proven time after time … create not just characters but CARE-acters. 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.
Happy writing! I enjoy your comments and am happy to help with any writing problems. Some of my 14 novels are now available at discount price direct from me at firstname.lastname@example.org – including “The Pomegranate Pendant”; “Esther – a Jerusalem Love Story”; “In A Good Pasture” and “Searching for Sarah”.