Making the Connection: Character-Reader

So first and foremost (and I really need not say it) there have obviously been a few changes to the blog. I sorta, might of spend all day yesterday redesigning it. What do you guys think?

I now have pretty buttons that link to my tumblr and deviantart, which really need more attention. I'll be working on that (pinky swear!). But I figured I'd let you guys see my artsy side.

Now! Onto the writerly stuff: the post.

I think one of the most important accomplishments of the writer (or any other artist, for that matter) is the connection.

There are two types of connections that I’m going to cover in the next two blog posts:
  1.          The Character-Reader Connection
  2.        The Author-Reader Connection
As you can see by the title, I’m focusing on the first.

What establishes the connection between the character and the reader is hard to define. For first person, I think a lot of it has to do with voice. I hesitate to say that it’s easier to create a connection when you’re writing in first person because if the voice isn’t right, the connection won’t be made. It’ll feel fake, stilted, and worst of all*shudder*—forced.

Third person may take a little longer to establish the connection (since you’re starting right off the bat a step farther from first person by describing the MC as “he” or “she”) but I wouldn’t call one easier than the other. They both have challenges you’ll need to overcome to create that spark.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you what to do with your character to create the connection, though, because I’m still figuring it out myself.

I WILL tell you, however, about some character types that serve as immediate turn-offs that will sever that connection in an instant.

  •       The Whiner. You know that person who never shuts up about every minor problem they’ve ever encountered EVER and just goes ON AND ON about it until you want to SLAP THEM IN THE FACE WITH A FISH. Yeah. Don’t let your character be that person.
  •       The Wimp. I’ll offer a small exception to this one: your character may start off as a wimp, but he better not be one for long. Readers have a low tolerance for wimps. This applies to both girls and boys, and I’d say especially girls. Because no one wants to follow a female protagonist who’s waiting for the next Prince Charming to save her. Save yourself girl, and kick Prince Charming in the nads. It’ll make the story a lot more interesting.
  •       The Jerk. I’m not saying your character has to be nice to make a connection—some of the most interesting characters aren’t. What I AM saying is your character has to be nice sometimes or else the readers will tire of his badass attitude. Here’s a little secret: every badass has a soft side. If he says he doesn’t, he’s lying. Go find it.
  •       The Pessimist (or the Emo Kid). I’m mean to my characters. Very mean. Once they start going emo on me, I hit them upside the head with a fish. Their pessimism is not welcome here. Like many of the other traits, this is acceptable for a phase, but nothing more than that.  I have one character who tries to commit suicide. Guess what? It doesn’t work. Not only does it not work, but he realizes what a moron he was being (with some help from his friend) and mans the hell up. That’s all the emo-ness I will tolerate and he doesn’t do it again for fear of death by fish slap.
Readers need to like your characters at least a little bit in order to connect with them. You want your reader to cheer for your MC and groan when he/she does something stupid. Without the connection, your characters will fall flat and your readers will move on to something else.

Next up on Wednesday: The Author-Reader Connection.

What characters do you think made the best connection? The worst? What do you think attritubted to your connection or lack thereof? 


Katie Dunn said...

Now, even I fear your fish-slap!! Great post!

Joseph said...

Great post! Haha, fish-slapping crazy over there are you =] And how did you get the 'like' button at the bottom of your post? I once had one but it's gone :( and I can't for the life of me figure it out xD

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

I'll admit I was a little fish-slap happy. :)

I used Add This to get the like button. It's really easy, you just sign up then download the blogger widget. ^_^

Jennie Bennett said...

I'll be sure to avoid you if a fish is around, lol! I totally agree who needs whinny, wimpy,rude characters? No one.
Love your new blog design! I need to fix mine I'm afraid :S

S.P. Sipal said...

Love your buttons! They're nice and easy to see. Also, I'll be sure never to complain around you as I don't want to be slapped with a fish. :-)

Great post and you definitely hit some of the main character turn-offs.

Becca Puglisi said...

I've been staring out my window thinking about your question (always a good thing ;)), and I think the readers I connect most deeply with are the ones I desperately want to succeed. They all want something, whether it's a goal, an object, or an intangible desire. The characters I bond strongly with are the ones I really feel for in their present circumstance. I want them to overcome.

If only it was as easy to CREATE these characters as it is to identify them...

Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

Krista said...

Love the new look!

The characters I connect to most when reading have experianced the same emotion as me so I can empathize with them.

For example: Harry in Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword - moved to a distant land and had to deal with feeling lonely and out of place. I moved over a dozen times before my senior year in high school so I could totally relate.

So I connect best with chatacters that share my pain.

Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

Glad everyone likes the new look! *phew* I slaved away on that one...

I love seeing everyone responses to my question about characters with the strongest connection. Let's keep them coming! :)

Thanks everyone for commenting! Hope you know I really do read all of them. ^_^

Sonia G Medeiros said...

Working on all of this right now as I work through my outlines and character profiles. Timely advice!

Anonymous said...

The characters I have connected the most with have a really clear voice. It's obvious that the author thought a lot about them. Great post.

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