Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sympathy

The readers have to take your protagonist's side. They have to want him or her to win. They have to demand justice, restoration, or fulfillment in his or her life.

You stroll down the street and pass a sidewalk bench beneath a shady tree. What do you see on the bench? A happy pig reading a newspaper and eating a box of donuts. He is wearing a smart looking hat and puffing on a nontoxic bubble pipe. Comical, yes? But do you demand better treatment, fulfillment, or restoration for him? Surely not. The pig is obviously doing just fine, and you go on about your business.

Viiiiiip ra riiiiiip.......back it up to where you were before you reached the bench. You are strolling down the street and see a gray tabby kitten fighting desperately to stay out of the reach of a very large German shepherd puppy. The dog is snapping, its long pointed teeth coming within an inch of taking it at every try. The feline is beginning to weaken. Its legs and tail quiver. Its claws begin to slip and lose their hold on the wood from the back of the bench.

What do you do? You scold the puppy and scoop the exhausted kitten into your arms, carrying it away to safety.

Which story moved your emotions to demand a response? The pig made us smile, but the kitten called to the warrior inside each person. We must extract a similar response to our main title character in a story if we are to shine like the best novelists in the business.

Write on!

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