Why do we turn the page? Because we care about what happens to the character. Somehow, an author has fleshed out a character so well that we want to know how they deal with the conflict that has come against them. As authors, how do we make our readers care?
I came across a book recently with some really good information on this. Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life by William Bernhardt is an excellent resource. I'm just going to highlight Chapter Eight today: Making Readers Care.
Bernhardt likens this subject to meeting new people at a party. Some people you want to spend the entire evening with, talking to them and getting to know them. Other guests make you want to suddenly see someone across the room you need to speak to so you can get away. "Characters are like that too. There are many ways to cause a reader to like your character."
Readers tend to admire characters who exhibit the following traits:
1. The Expert. Demonstrate that your protagonist is very good at what he or she does.
2. The Clown. Another reliable way to attract readers to your character is to give them a sense of
3. The Saint. Show your character committing an act of kindness.
4. The Underdog. Readers root for the underdog.
5. The Loved One. There are many virtues, but the greatest of these is love.
6. The Empath. Even someone outside of a relationship can be loving - and we admire those who
Bernhardt expounds on these traits in his book, and suggests that we don't use all of these---pick one or two. "These are primarily ways to cause the reader to admire your character until you provide more profound reasons." Check out Creating Character by William Bernhardt here.
Any other suggestions about how to make our readers care?