1. ms627
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    ms627 Member

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    Getting the Reader Attached?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ms627, Mar 31, 2013.

    I was wondering what sort of mechanisms you use to get the reader attached to characters. Is it something you think about when writing? When you read, what tends to make you "feel" for a character?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Get into the character's head and give him or her honest feelings. The reader has felt something similar to whatever this character is feeling at some point in his or her life, and will empathize with this character if you do this right away. Readers want to attach to the character, and they will if you can get into the character's head. Then you have to be sure not to lose them.

    So, with whatever is happening in your opening scene, let us know what the character is thinking and feeling in reaction to it.
     
  3. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    People will get attached to any and all interesting characters. Just have them be interesting and have their own distinct personalities. Also have them doing things, and not be stagnant.
     
  4. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    As they have said above: and the missing part of reader attachment is time. Like with real people you need a bit of time while they are interacting inside the story to get to know them--that is why the beginning of a story is so important.
     
  5. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    I can say that reader gets really attached if the character have some understandable way of acting and inner problems that match to what reader get as interesting. When they act in some weird way, reader needs to get to know why and the question is if the "why" part is really worth it or its just about some kind of your opinion.

    I see on most books that their writers felt they can finally step up and say what they think.
     
  6. NellaFantasia
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    NellaFantasia Member

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    The connection happens for me when the character feels real. Real characters are imperfect, make mistakes and have reasons for what they're doing, whether it's saving the world, destroying it, or somewhere in between.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...no... it's not something a writer should be doing... there are too many readers with too many different preferences, so that would be an exercise in futility... you need to just write well enough that your characters are 'real' to the readers and let them pick their own favorites to relate to...

    ...good writing that makes the characters 'real'...
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    There are things you can do that people use in hollywood a lot but I feel those are cheap tricks meant to accomplish attachment via shortcuts and not actually making the character have any depth. It really falls flat. Think about books you've read that had characters you fell in love with. For me it's always been a genuine and well rounded character.

    I think about it like this- what's the difference between a stick figure and a Monet? Complexity. Real people are not cut and dry. They are not just a handful of characteristics. They are molded by their attitudes and circumstances. You have to really consider what moves people and changes them. Think of your characters as you would actual people. There isn't a set rule book for understanding another human being.

    Something that worked well for me was to write down a handful of good and bad characteristics a character had. Then to write down a few major life events that would have a big impact on them. I don't think it's ever a good idea to make a huge character sheet with super specific things because you can box yourself in. You want to leave room for the character to grow and change like an actual person would. That's why I don't go crazy with these summary things I make. It's basically a skeleton for the character and I flesh it out as I write. Practice writing short scenes or snippets of your story with the characters to help you get a feel for them. Another thing I would suggest is to read a lot! Even if they are bad books it's not a waste because then you can learn what doesn't work. Examine what you read with a critical eye and try to deconstruct it so you can understand what makes a good story and a good character. I hope that helps! :)
     
  9. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    Activity over passivity. I think that's probably the main thing. I would never love a character who does nothing. I would never love a character who does SOME things. They need to actively seek out our approval and our love as readers.

    Sympathy and empathy are powerful tools as well. In my experience, it IS easier to create a lovable character by forming them from the foundations of common recent aspects of/issues in life. Love is one of the big ones. Isolation from friends and family, early experience with death, racism. All that stuff. But it's not essential to have empathy. Sympathy comes with making an interesting character, and having interesting things happen to them.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    ^this.

    I also get attached to characters that don't come off as the puppets of the writer (even though of course they are). They seemingly make their own decisions instead of acting in a way that takes the story and plot to where the author wants it.

    There's something about characters that come off an idealized character representing the author that I just can't... well, can't stand. I'm not even sure what it is that causes this. I've gotten the feeling with Bella Swan and Sandman Slim. Maybe if too many amazing things happen to this character, the little old them get into the pants of a hot-ass vampire or, well, the pants of a hot-ass vamp, maybe it's something like that which keeps me from getting attached to them. The heroine of the Valor series was a bit like that too (while otherwise pretty solid novels!). Then again, the extreme heroes of Chris Ryan don't cause it cos the author's the real deal, a SAS operative. Not saying the author has to be a friggin' viking warrior so that s/he can write viking fiction, not at all, but sometimes I have trouble getting attached to... fine, I'll say it, these "Mary Sues."
     
  11. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I don't know what mechanisms you mean but the best way to get a reader to become attached to a character is to make them relatable. Give them an inner voice and let them speak to the reader. Let them express their wants, needs, fears, in relation to the plot of course, you don't want the character to waffle nonsense, keep it relevant, in doing this you will make your character 'real' Usually its something that is added once the first draft is done and the story is complete - at least I do it that way.
     
  12. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's one of those extremely simple, yet incredibly complex and difficult arts. You write honestly. You create characters as 3-D, 98.6 as possible. Make them real and honest and full of the same hang ups and foibles as any 'other' human being. If your characters matter to you, they will matter to others. Not all others, but then, not everyone cares about everyone else in the real world either.
     

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