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  1. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    How to get your reader connected with your MC?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by 33percent, Aug 17, 2018.

    My MC wakes up from a coma pretty much in a chaotic scene. As I was told from someone else, it is a trope to start off the story in action? Besides that, how do you get the reader to connect with the MC and care about the character on the 1st page? I read Maze Runner, re-read the first page and I'm like there is nothing for me to really care about this character except where the story was directing Tommy.

    I've read someone where, as long the reader knows the MC has a main goal and deep down, an internal battle/struggle the reader can relate to. Yet how can you have the reader care about the MC from the very start, when the MC themselves is trying to figure out what is going on and their main goal is. When I read books I enjoy, I never stopped myself and was like "why should I care for the MC?" it wasn't really a priority for me unless I cared about the story.
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I don't know if you can get the reader to care about the MC from the first page. You can make them immediately likable, but investment is something, I think, that happens over time. You typically need to spend some time with a character before you get any sort of emotional attachment. So it's sort of a poor premise to start from, IMO.

    Is it a trope to start off in the middle of action? Yeah, kinda -- it's starting in media res, in the middle of things. The fact that it's a trope doesn't make it bad, by any means, if that's what you're concerned about.
     
  3. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    I suppose you could call it a trope. It's a very broad category of beginnings though. No reason to be afraid of doing that.

    You don't have to have the reader know the MC's goals and the exact nature of their inner struggles from the beginning from the reader to care, you just have to give some indication of their goals and their inner struggles. If the character is just observing and making basic opinions on their surroundings, we won't care, but if it's clear they have particular and personal interests and concerns, then that should be enough. As I have been advised with my character introductions- find ways to include some details about the character's life experience.
     
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  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Why are you worried about it? Do you have reason to believe your readers will not connect with your MC? Honestly, I don't give these things too much thought. I think it just sort of happens when you get all the other pieces in place. I've hear it's a good thing to start with action and in scene. I think it's better to start with action than with your MC waking up from a coma. But that's just me, maybe. Anyway, I don't think the Maze Runner is the best book to look to for your writing questions. I know you mentioned that book before. I could be wrong, but isn't that one of those books that was written after the movie? I think if you read more books, you'll be able to answer more of your questions.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    A quick glance at Maze Runner's first page on Amazon, and it appears that the hook is fear and loneliness as a child. That's a hook.
     
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  6. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    I had a professional editor; beta reader review my first three chapters. She gave me her input, besides working on grammar. She just mentioned having action starting off middle of the story is a trope, doesn't really work. Mainly because it's hard to have the reader to get connected with the MC.

    Well the MC wakes up all effed up, feeling like crap, headaches, nausea and confused as hell where he is. While trying to get the gist of things, finding his way out of this weird place, and he ends up running into this kid(side kick supporting character) trying to escape the same place.

    The MC goes along with it, they attempt to escape and he has no clue, reader has no clue either what their really escaping from. MC studying the surroundings definitely something bad happened and eventually they're captured.

    I did have another beta reader, who is a Game Master for RPG games. He pointed out he didn't really care for the character, MC until the 4th chapter after they were captured. That's when the story really begins, the MC and escape buddy taken to their awaited prison. I am mentioning Maze Runner, because well it's current book I am finishing up reading.
     
  7. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think the key is to let us in on what the main character (the POV character, I assume is what you mean?) is thinking and feeling. What the character is DOING is usually not enough to get us to identify with this character. We just start reading, and looking for a way in. If all you tell us is what the character is doing, it had better be something really amazing.

    Amazing is not simply waking up from a coma. You'll need to let us in on what that person first thinks about when they wake up, or believes is happening, and give us their reaction to that thought. And their emotions as well. Are they scared? Bewildered? If so, by what? What doesn't make sense to them? Do they know where they are? Do they recognise anybody sitting by their bed? Are they in pain? Is there a sound that is bothering them? If so, how is that sound bothering them? Does it remind them of something? Is somebody playing music they love or hate? Be specific. When people write about a person coming out of a coma, too often they make the writing hazy to mimic the person's supposed muddled state. I think that's a huge mistake. Focus on something and make it specific. As awareness returns, add more specifics. And stir the emotions and mental processes into the mix.

    It's what's going through that character's head and heart that will grab a reader.
     
  8. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Unless you mean editor who worked or is well known in publishing I wouldn't put too much weight in someone being a professional editor. I've been a professional editor and paid as such. It's not all that hard if you know what you're doing. But it seems like you might have gotten some bad advice. Look at books and where they start in terms of story. And google character waking up or something like that. I'm guessing your story starts with chapter four, and you seem to know it too. I hope you didn't pay too much for the professional editor.
     
  9. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Hi floor, make me a sammich. :P Supporter Contributor

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    It will take more than the first page to get a reader to like the character. So don't worry about
    it magically hooking them on the first page, since you can't give up the entirety of the character
    in a full/half a page depending how your format is.

    Though I suppose it could be disorientating to the reader being thrust right into an action scene
    right off the bat, but IDK.

    Good luck and I hope you get it sorted. :superidea:
     
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  10. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    I didn't pay her, she hasn't done any editing or anything. She just read my first 3 beta chapters and gave me her input. I did go back, see things that weren't necessary to the story and took it out. The 1st three chapters are MC wakes up(1) > MC inspects the place, runs into sidekick character(2) > They attempt for an escape and get captured(3). MC really has no clue what is going on.

    I input a lot of showing how he is scared, waking up in a place with sirens, bullet holes in the walls. MC accidentally tripping over a dead body. I set up the scene where I give obvious cues something went bad. MC has a ton of headaches, dehydrated sorta waking up from a hangover. I made it where his mouth is somewhat numb, so I have it where he asked various of questions in his thoughts wondering about the place.

    When I wrote the story, my 1st draft I didn't do any revising or editing. I just puked it up on paper. I didn't really know about the "Show don't tell" rule, so I basically wrote my 1st draft telling, like a written script. Now, I am converting everything from telling to showing. I just need to know what I really need to work on, grammar wise too. I guess I could use a beta reader to give me insight and clarity of what I need to work on to make it "marketable" at least.
     
  11. MikeyC

    MikeyC Active Member

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    Sounds like over worry!
    I had a friend that asked to critique my work for me, and they gave feedback mostly bad, because they felt like they HAD to give something back to improve it and/or help. They didn't help and i haven't sent them anything since. I have other friends who are more honest and helpful.
    Don't forget everyone's a critique, not everyone is a good or helpful critique.

    Rgds
     
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  12. Just a cookiemunster

    Just a cookiemunster Active Member

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    In my opinion as a reader what connects me to a character is when I relate to them either physically,mentally or through experiences. Just to give an example I was never into the whole "strong female" characters people argue up and down about these days. I am a traditional girl who likes to read about a feminine damsel in distressed saved by a manly hero. So although I have came across some super awesome put together female characters in a book I never fell in love with them or related to them because they were not like "me" or the type of females I relate to. If they are too far off from me I will even put the book down and move on to the next one.
    On the other hand I have cried tears for characters that were relatable to me especially when it came to things they experienced in life that and personality. So you can never MAKE a person attached to your characters. Everyone views things from a very different perspectives.

    Plus just as it takes time to form relationships with people characters are the same. I never fall in love with a character at first sight I need time to get to know them. :)
     
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  13. l nimbus

    l nimbus Member

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    Give him/her/it flaws, dreams, a good, solid past.

    I made readers connect my own MC. It's a bit harder than it sounds.....Said MC is a Minotaur. From another world. Oh, and bonus, he's religious. Everybody hates religious characters for some reason.

    But those three things i said above are the key. I used them, i managed....somehow.
     
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  14. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    You are in the right direction but you didn't go all the way.

    About 1/3 of connection comes from what they think and feel.

    About 1/2 of connection comes from obvious things MC does not get and which reader notices he/she does not get.

    Think about Dilbert, Arthur Dent, Obelix, Frazier, Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Jack Sparrow... Your first and deepest relation is not to what they think and feel but what is missing from their thoughts and feelings and what you recognise.

    You just like what is missing from Obelix. And things that are missing from Sherlock make him a human being instead of superhero. Or Batman or Superman or Santa Claus or...

    People can connect to missing peace very fast.

    "I just could not understand what he was talking about..."

    There is not one piece of information about POV-person and still you might get the connection because you recognise the missing piece or a flaw or shortage or a...
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
  15. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Aye, but it's how that principle is conveyed that is important. If a character is thinking "I just could not understand what he was talking about," that's him thinking and giving us his thoughts. We can make of those thoughts what we will. If you don't let us in on what a character is thinking and feeling, we won't be able to decide if they're missing something or not.

    In Sherlock Holmes, don't forget, it's not Sherlock's mind and heart we are engaged with. Dr Watson is the POV character, and the person whose thoughts and feelings we are getting. It's through Dr Watson's eyes that we get to know Sherlock.

    If, however, all we read was that Dr Watson got up from his chair, went to the sideboard, opened the door, got his hat and coat, ate his breakfast ...in other words, we didn't get the character's thoughts and feelings ABOUT Holmes ...then it would be difficult to get a handle on what Holmes was like.

    Don't forget ...there is a difference between the 'main character' and the POV character. (Although they can be the same, they aren't always.) Sherlock Holmes is a good example. He is what people probably would consider to be the main character. But he is not the POV character. It's the POV character, Dr Watson, whose thoughts and feelings we get. We draw conclusions about the other characters based on the thoughts and feelings from the POV character (and what we can deduce from what that character sees or witnesses.)

    Arthur Dent is a POV character in a novel, and we certainly get his thoughts and feelings throughout. Obelix is a cartoon character, not a character in a novel or short story, so the POV character doesn't exist. Frazier is a TV character, not a character in a novel or short story, so all we get is what we see and hear. Frodo? Of course we get Frodo's thoughts and feelings. In the scenes where Frodo appears (in the book) he is the POV character. Ditto Harry Potter (or at least as much of the books as I've read.) Jack Sparrow is a movie character, so, like Frasier, all we get is what we see and hear. In TV and movies, there is no POV character unless they contain a constant voice-over.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
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  16. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    Pointing to the missing part happens by focusing on something else.

    "I was talking to my wife's breast and thinking all the lovely moments we have had together."
     
  17. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So, don't worry so much about it. You can't run before you learn how to walk, and I wouldn't worry about anything being marketable for the moment. You're in rough draft territory and rough drafts aren't ever meant to be marketable. Get your story out, get a full draft, then go back and edit the hell out of it. Let it rest, edit the hell out of it some more. Rinse and repeat several more times. Then send it out to beta readers. By that point, you will have also garnered more experience and your writing will have improved simply because you were consciously writing and editing. Currently, you're in the "Write, explore, enjoy" stage, not the editing stage where you make something marketable. Don't try to skip over the first stage, because you can't.
     
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  18. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    1. Wrap them inside the same chicken wire. Use at leas 5 layers.
    2. Pour concrete. Use 1kg of concrete to 2kg:s of a reader.
    3. Wait. Keep the surface of concrete wet or covered with plastic while you wait.
    4. After few days your reader will be very well connected to your MC.

    These advices are from the local branch of MC Authors 1% Gang.

    You can read or you can weep and read. Reading is a must. Living is voluntary.
     
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  19. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    Many religious writers try to make their religious characters perfect from page 1. So there is no character development. That makes characters boring.

    Many atheist writers try to prove that religious people are mislead idiots. So they make religious one-two dimensional cardboard dummys who use idiotic argumentation. Boring.

    So readers learn that religious characters equal boring. This connection is so strong that when religious character is not boring, most readers seem to bypass characters religious nature totally.
     
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  20. Tall for a hobbit

    Tall for a hobbit Member

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    When in doubt about something like this, I would look to the most engaging books you have read for inspiration, and see how those authors handle the development of their main characters.

    Personally I don’t feel I need strong attachment to a main character from the get go, and in fact there are a few books i’ve read where my enjoyment came purely from the narrative, or concept, or style of prose, and I didn’t really feel much at all for the MC.

    Other books I’ve loved purely for my emotional investment in one or more of the characters, MC or otherwise.

    Opinions and tastes will always differ, and different pieces have different requirements from characters, so I’d say just develop your MC at a pace which works for your story, and think more about how to ensure your writing is engaging on the whole.
     
  21. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    Every book is different so you have to go about it differently each time.
    I've found that presenting the character with a difficult decision, one that makes the reader think "what the hell would I do in that situation/given that choice? I don't want to think about it, but I'll see what he/she does."

    In the first chapter of my book my character has her mother dying of a horrible disease that has no cure. Her mother is in pain and she asks her daughter (my main character) to end her suffering for her, which is illegal in that community, not to mention illegal for her to use the medicine needed. So I'm hoping by presenting a terrible situation for my character, there is an internal struggle for her and having to kill your own mother or watch her slowly sick a gruesome death is pretty heart wrenching. I'll hopefully get my readers on her side. Then I added some stakes to up the ante. (Rules and laws in her community, the fact that she has no one else besides her mother). Could be a terrible idea for me too do this, but it's an idea I had so I'll go with it.

    That's my advice. Difficult positions, personal sacrifices and so on...

    Hope this helped a bit
     
  22. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    I can't relate to religious characters at all, so I wouldn't read a book if I knew it was about a religious character. It wouldn't be enjoyable to me and thus a waste of time. It doesn't have to do with them being boring or not.
     
  23. Tall for a hobbit

    Tall for a hobbit Member

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    I think I felt a bit like this in the past, but I react differently to religious characters now. I’m no closer to finding god than I was when I was younger, but it can be very interesting to notice how much we all have in common with people of faith - I think a lot of us live just as unquestioningly, but in much more subtle ways.

    And it’s part of the beauty of reading - having the chance to see the world through very different eyes.
     
  24. LazyBear

    LazyBear Senior Member

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    Having a character arc starting from the absolute bottom financially or with a handicap can be comforting for readers that worry about ending up badly or are focusing too much on what they don't have. It's okay to have a rich character, but only if the real goals in life gets the main attention. Life only becomes more complicated when you have money, because the money owns you if you can't let it go and people will start to hate you if they want what you have. Being famous is even worse, because then you have no privacy. What does matter is having family, friends and self-esteem (not self-confidence).

    The ethics and moral should be realistic, so it's best to base it on your own values to avoid flat stereotypes. For side-characters, you must however be ready to see the world from multiple views and let both sides be right about something, which is a lot easier if you're not from the USA where opinions are called "awareness" by people who didn't bother to hear the other side's arguments. Taking a course in ethics can teach you how to set your opinions aside for a moment and see things objectively from all the angles.
     
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  25. 33percent

    33percent Active Member

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    Take an atheist and put him/her in a death ground situation, you'll see how fast they'll be finding God or some sort of higher being. When you're in a seriously desperate situation especially life and death. It changes you alot of ways. When all hope is lost, absolutely lost every chance of say surviving, well that's all you can do is pray. I do have many situations for my MC, where I do put him in death ground situations and he prays to God. He does get religious a bit because that's all he has.

    You want to test your faith a little bit? go ahead go try jumping out of an airplane. Your life hangs in the air over depending how your chute deploys will bring you closer to God. My parachute got tangled and was falling faster than any other jumper. I prayed during that longest 30 seconds of free fall, fearing for my life. I pulled my reserve, even that was getting tangled. When I landed, I never felt so chills in my life as if I died right there on the ground. Medics said I was whiter than white. The worst thing you can do in life is getting complacent, where you don't need God because you think you're safe or too comfortable. That's the greatest mistake you can make, where you take everything for granted and not realizing how good you do have it. You'll see how fast things can change on bringing you back finding God or faith.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018

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