Finding connection is all about the ability to connect with the reader through your story and your characters. Why? Because everything within the story should be relatable to the reader – something they understand, sympathise with or have experienced.
The moment the reader makes that connection with the story and the main character, that’s when then the story takes on a deeper meaning – the moment the reader will care and become emotionally invested in what happens to the characters and the story. They’re not just reading a story; they’re being part of it.
Finding connection isn’t as difficult as it sounds. It happens when you create a sense of immediacy, which is like an invisible bond; a sense of familiarity. Immediacy can be achieved through your characters, so the characters you create play an important role in establishing a connection with the reader. They have to be likeable and believable people. That’s why readers are drawn to ordinary people whose circumstances they can understand and relate to, people they can empathise with and feel emotion towards, and grow closer to as the story progresses.
In a 3rd person story, immediacy can also be achieved by showing the reader a character’s emotions and vulnerabilities using a combination of dialogue, internal thoughts and description. Used together, these elements provide the reader with valuable insights into the character; it delves into their inner emotions and thoughts; those not always visible on the surface. It shows the reader the real aspects of someone’s character and makes them understand them better – it allows the reader to delve into a character’s head.
The 1st person viewpoint creates a much closer connection than is found with 3rd person, because the main character, the ‘I’ of the story, is communicating directly with the reader. The reader will see things only through the protagonist’s eyes, so those inner thoughts and feelings are more exaggerated and focused.
Emotion is another way of finding connection with the reader. That’s because all emotions are relatable – readers will have experienced the same emotions as your characters, which makes them sympathise and empathise with your character’s struggles. That’s because familiarity creates connection. The more things we have in common with others, the closer the connection we feel, so by showing more emotion within the story, writers can draw the reader in through that sense of familiarity, and therefore make them care about those characters.
The element of danger is something else that pulls the reader closer to the story and your characters. If you put your characters in danger, you create circumstances that build tension and drama – which, like emotion, are both relatable to the reader. While immediacy and emotion help make the reader care about the protagonist, the added element of fear and danger will lure the reader into the story because they need to know what will happen to the hero/heroine; they will need to know if they will be okay.
That sense of connection can also be accomplished with your story’s themes, because all themes are relatable to the reader, whether it’s love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, revenge, friendship and so on. Once again, it’s familiarity that brings the reader closer. In this case, strong themes create a stronger connection.
So if you want to find a way of connecting to your readers and making them care, create believable, multifaceted characters, utilise immediacy, use emotion and use strong themes.