Saturday, December 13, 2008

THE WRITE WHISPER: Making your readers care

Welcome to a new series of writing tips, discussion and general blatherings as I traverse the wonderful world of publishing.

I'm hoping to make this a weekly weekend series though in all likelihood, I can see it featuring fortnightly...or maybe longer, we'll see how we go!

(And if you miss out on a post, you can see the lot in the sidebar link and on my website.)

So, how do we make our readers care?

The idea for this series was sparked while I was watching Prison Break this week.
This series is the best yet, with the writers giving every character motivation for their actions, no matter how nefarious.
But what really struck home was when I choked up over a former bad guy dying.
How did the writers do that?
How did they make me care enough about a 'baddie' to feel sorrow when he died?

It all comes down to this.
If you give your characters sufficient, believable motivation for their actions, readers will be behind them all the way.

How many times are you reading a book or watching a movie and enjoying it, only to be jolted out of the suspended reality by the character doing something completely out of character?
It jars.
It takes us out of the story.
It ruins our suspension of disbelief and makes us question everything about the remainder of the book/movie.

You don't want to do this to your readers.
You want them swept along in the story, so caught up in the characters' lives they absolutely must keep turning pages until they reach 'the end'...and leave them wanting more, particularly your next book!

A strong, real, believable motivation is gold.

That's my 'write whisper' for today.


Dena said...

Hi Nic, I know what you mean about motivation, PB writers have got me hooked and had me feeling sad over Bellick dying too. When writers do what PB writers do I can't put the book down. great post.

Monique Wood said...

I'm SOOO looking forward to reading your posts, Nicola. I'm sure you'll share some interesting insights into writing. Very useful to me at the moment!

Btw, completely off topic, but did you see our man toy Hugh is hosting the Oscars?! Woo hoo! I haven't watched the telecast in years, but to see that hunk in action on stage would be worth the 3 hours!!

Nicola Marsh said...

Me too, Dena.

Nicola Marsh said...

I did, Mon! Woo-Hugh!

And glad you'll find the posts useful :)