Made to Stick for Writers: Emotional

Tuesday, August 10

We've found our core message, we've hooked the reader, dragged them in with a few concrete details, and kept the tone with credibility. Now one of the most important questions; How do we make them care?
Why should the reader care about the main character? Sure they're going through difficulties, but so is everyone else in the world.
We think we can present a huge, insurmountable tragedy and the reader will care. But people don't care about problems, they care about other people. It's so much easier to feel for someone instead of something.
So before you dish out the blows, introduce your character.

By introducing, I don't mean a flat-out description. So she has brown hair and brown eyes, huh? So what?
To get someone to care about the character, show what the character cares about. What are their personal goals? What keeps them awake at night?
If you plan on killing a character right off the bat, first spend a little time humanizing them. It will be so much more painful if a character you've grown to love dies, rather than a character you don't even know.

This is where Showing Not Telling comes in. Show whatever it is they care about.
If it's another character they care about, show them becoming more gentle, more gruff, or more shy around that character (depending on their personality).
If it's revenge or justice, something abstract, show them taking steps to reach that.
If it's something material, show why they want it so bad and what they're willing to do to get it.
And if all they're trying to accomplish is surviving from day to day, then you should probably throw another motive in the mix.

Your main character's desires should drive the book, rather than plot goals.

Part 1: Simple
Part 2: Unexpected
Part 3: Concrete
Part 4: Credible
Part 5: Emotional (You are here)
Part 6: Story
Part 7: Epilogue

3 comment(s):

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