How do you make someone give a shit?

Posted on 11/02/2010

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Just finished watching The Event again. Once more I was furiously pissed off at the show for a number of reasons I will post later in my apparent monthly rant about the show.

But while watching it tonight, I realized the root issue of the entire show.

I just don’t give a shit if any of the characters live or die.  I am not emotionally invested in any of them. Not one.

When you’re not emotionally invested, you find it hard to care about the story, no matter how convoluted/sci-fi/conspiracy related it is. (And yes, I love all three of those)

Which led me to ask the question: how do you make someone give a shit about a character? Seriously. What is that you can write in a story that makes a reader pick it up and immediately bond with the character in the story? There has to be a formula for this, right? I mean, there’s a formula for everything else in writing a novel.

Stephen King seems to have it down pretty good on how to write empathetic characters. You can read any of his books and you will connect with at least one person in the story–usually a lot more than just one.

Really though. How do you as a writer, make characters empathetic? I know I have a problem with this, and I can only assume others do too. Is this another case of “You either have it or you don’t”?

 

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Posted in: The Event, Writing