Make Them Like You

Posted on 12/29/2009

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“Why should I care?”

Read that statement again.

It’s a question that Donald Maass (He needs to put 2 “M”s at the front of his name..Mmaass) and now Bob Mayer are asking about your story. (Bob got it from Don) 

It all started with Maass hearing people’s story ideas, and asking the tough questions like, “Does anyone care?” “Would the reader care?” etc. 

Which begs the question: how do you make people care about your characters and your story idea?   Bob Mayer says in answer “You gotta make them care.”

Really?  Exactly how does one go about making other people care about your story/characters?

I’ve been pondering this for a while, and am having a terrible time with it.  I approach stories usually with the idea of a “Wouldn’t that be cool?” idea.  And then I start figuring out what is the wierdest character I can put into the story?  Then I go from there. So, how do I make the reader (Let’s call the reader, “you”) how do I make you care?  If I read the back of a novel and read the paragaph or two, what makes me care enough to pick the book up? Well, sure it’s a subjective thing. What I find interesting would bore the behootie out of you.  People who don’t care, shrug and walk off. There is a guy in my writer group who has people critique his work based upon his characters, not his writing. His characters are so realistic that he gets people saying, “I really don’t like your protagonist.”  I’m hopping up and down in my chair screaming in my head, “WIN, WIN, WIN!!!”  If you can have someone say they don’t like a character,

THEN.

THEY.

CARE.

I would rather someone say they hate a certain character than they have a meh feeling about that character. That’s what we strive for.

So back to the task at hand. How do you make them care?  Do you create believable characters? Flawed?  I think it all starts with the characters, because, let’s face it, every story’s been done. The only difference is your take on the story, your unique perspective. So…it’s about the characters then–how do I make people care about my characters?

I need to study.

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Posted in: Dialog, Writing