Creating characters that leave an impression on the reader whether it is a good or bad impression is what every author strives for, but getting readers to care about the characters is not an easy task. The author must give the reader a reason to care about what happens to the character. Otherwise, the character meets his or her demise on page eighty-nine and the reader turns the page without giving it a second thought.
Characters should leave an impression on the reader to the point that they question themselves. Would I have done the same thing under those circumstances? What would I have done differently? The question that emerges is, “How can a writer go about making the reader care?”
I will use a non-literary example—the goal is after all to make your characters realistic. First, I must ask… do you know who Caylee Anthony and Elizabeth Smart are? It is safe to say that most of us do. Why is that? The media and law enforcement play a crucial role in making the public aware of when a child goes missing. An Amber Alert is issued; local news stations and their affiliates show pictures of the missing child. On some occasions, parents and law enforcement make a plea to the public in the hopes that the child will be returned unharmed. They also keep the public informed when there are new developments in the case.
Whether we intend to or not, viewers begin to care about finding said child, even when they are in another state. It is important to mention that we all respond to the same situation in different ways. As a writer, you have to ask yourself, why should readers care? Once you have found the answer, write a story with that in mind.
Write as if the character was fighting for air and the only way he/she could make it to the surface is for you to make them believable—so believable that the reader has no choice but to invest in their journey. It should illicit emotions that are reserved for inopportune moments; make them connect on the slightest level in a way that they can relate to, whether it is love, hate, abandonment, abuse, or fear. We are all affected by something. All you have to do is find the common ground.
Mila A. Ballentine is an award winning, best-selling mystery writer who enjoys writing Historical, Crime, Paranormal, and Science Fiction mysteries for a general audience. When she is not writing, Mila enjoys learning about other cultures, traveling, and doing anything that allows her to put her creative energy to use.