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I don’t know about you but I’ve been asking myself this for some time. What engages a reader? That fell flat on its face, so I move on to why do I read.
- Biggest reason is I’m looking for the next big story.
While I’m looking I’m okay with:
- visiting to another world (fantasy or not)
- enjoying a good laugh, surprises, crazy antics
- solving mysteries
I thought long and hard about what makes up a great story. The Five (TV Series) comes to mind. It blew my mind, but I’m not talking. You’ll have to watch it yourself.
I Googled it. Online says its all about the characters. I’m not sure it is only the characters, but I have to start somewhere.
WHAT MAKES CHARACTERS COMPELLING?
My problem is don’t necessarily connect with the characters immediately but I do accept them. I’m like that with the people I meet as well. Be warned: it’s a personal thing that may slant my point of view.
Some traits to include:
- well-rounded and random characteristics from all walks of life
- a driving need, desire, ambition or goal
- a deeply hidden, possibly shameful, secret
- coping/not coping with a contradiction and vulnerability (ex. bravery = deep need vs fear)
- showing vulnerabilities beneath a tough exterior (to the reader at least)
- the constant pressure of the consequences of success and failure
- the drive to face an opponent that has a better chance of succeeding than they do
What’s a hero without a villain
Something I love to see the protagonist and antagonist are both sympathetic characters. I love understanding and even agreeing with both sides. It makes for an undetermined outcome. (Rarely found in a mystery.)
Lets say we’ve done all this and the readers are still not connecting. What then?
Characters carry the reader with them throughout; but occasionally, it takes time to get to know them. Stalling for time….
Why do we care?
We might not. But hey! we are experiencing the Asteroid Belt. Hopefully that’s cool enough until the reader gets into the murder, industrial espionage and characters.
I’m thinking of the Magicians and Wayward. Sometimes the world can draw a reader in.
It isn’t the actor as much as what they face that brings out the egads in us.
Our actor faces an incident that could shatter their outer world as well as their inner reality, leaving them changed forever. The consequences leading to something more unimaginable. And will not only destroy the protagonist, but everyone else in their world.
For example check out an episode of Manifest.
Whether or not we used the stakes as a draw, we need to express them as early as possible.
OUR MISSION AS WRITERS
All of us need to find a way to engage our readers. They’ve checked out our cover, and read the blurb. They’ve scanned the first few pages. Lets not lose them now.
Anything you’d like to add? I’m all ears.