This is a guest post by author Lee Ann Ward
Every story is feelings. Period. It doesn’t matter who the characters are, readers must know what they are feeling throughout the story, and as readers, we must experience those feelings right along with them. Above all else, readers must care about the characters. Writers are often taught to raise the stakes in a story. The more that’s at stake, the more excitement for the reader. Writers often build conflict for a character, and once that conflict or situation is in place, then they find a way to make it even bigger. The more tension, the better. As readers, we beg for that tension. It’s golden.
As a reader, I like to pick books that show the internal conflict of the characters right off the bat. Those conflicts can be any range of things: emotional instability, mistrust, unrequited love, you name it. The writer’s job is to take those fatal flaws from scene one and challenge readers to keep caring page after page. And that’s when the external elements can begin layering the story: plotting and scene setting now come into play. If readers care about the characters, they will follow them into the devil’s hell just to hold their hand. It’s a beautiful thing!
So, in picking your next read, if the main character isn’t laid bare from page one–if you don’t care about him/her quickly and completely, a story may not be as satisfying as it could be. Show me a character’s heart and I will be ready to capture, heal, or complete it, and all is right in my book world!