Monday, December 15, 2014


I struggle with the idea of the likable narrator all the time.  As I stated in this post at my YA group author blog, YA Outside the Lines, I feel like part of my job is to present a character's unvarnished truth.  (We're inside a character's head, after all--we should get a glimpse into all their thoughts, not just those of the more PC variety.) 

I recently got this incredible bit of advice on the subject from a fellow author and had to share...

This author insisted that the focus shouldn't be on creating simply a likable narrator, but in creating reader empathy.  To create empathy, a writer should pick two of the following:

1. Make the main character a victim of undeserved misfortune.
2. Put the main character in jeopardy.
3. Make the main character likable.
4. Make the main character funny.
5. Make the main character powerful or good at what they do.

This makes so much sense to me.  Right now, in my NA-in-progress, both of my main characters are actually 3, 4, and 5 (the female is more 4 than the male), with a little of 2 sprinkled in.  (Jackpot!)  But I love the idea of focusing on empathy rather than likability (likability is only one option in the list for creating empathy).

Any other additions you might put on this list to create empathy--or to get a reader invested in a character's journey?

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