Ways To Help Readers Connect
Readers love stories that mean something to them. They may never experience the same event or problem, but they’ve had similar experiences or fears that those things might happen to them. It’s through the emotion authors bring to the characters that makes readers care. Caring creates an emotional connection. This is what you want.
What are some problems that we share with others? Family illnesses, a child’s illness or handicap, the lose of a home, job, spouse, pride, reputation. These are not battles that only fictitious people experience. They are ones that are common to mankind. I’m sure you can list many more.
Whether you write fantasies, thrillers, family sagas or love stories, within the plot readers can find issues and fears that will draw them into the story. But this can only happen when we give them the emotional attachment. We want to create empathy (recognize emotions experienced by another) or even a stronger bond through sympathy (a feeling and concern to the distress or need of another). As you see, empathy recognizes the emotion, while sympathy causes the feeling of emotion for the reader.
So what can you do to create sympathy? You can give the character a hardship, make him an underdog, put him in danger, cause him to feel helplessness, and hopelessness.
∙ Hardship: This refers to a lack of something. This can be finances, love, family, job, and such things as disabilities that cause challenges. Ask yourself what your character lacks. Could you character lack something more? Something worse? How does this hardship create emotion in your reader? If you can’t answer this, then look for another possible lack that your character might have.