In my pursuit of the well rounded, three dimensional character, I began reading – REALLY reading, Robert McKee’s book, Story – a book I HIGHLY recommend.
OK lovebugs, this is what I’ve learned so far:
FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR CHARACTERS
They are your babies, your creations, your soul whisperings.
McKee says this: (pay attention)
“The PROTAGONIST must be EMPATHETIC…”
Repeat after me: empathetic, empathetic, empathetic.
Empathetic : the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else’s feelings
Empathy = “like me”
As a writer you need to understand: empathetic characters connect with the reader.
Reader says: Hey! This character and I have some things in common. This PROTAGONIST and I share a humanity. I would like to have this character as a best friend, lover, sister, brother, partner in a bank heist, random stranger I am stuck in an elevator with, neighbor, mother, etc.
Hell! I might even want to BE this character.
Subconscious logic ensues:
A] The PROTAGONIST is like me.
B] I want the PROTAGONIST to have whatever it is that s/he wants BECAUSE I EMPATHIZE with her/him and …….
C] **[IMPORTANT] BECAUSE I WANT THE SAME THING FOR MYSELF!!
Now, here’s another dimension to this whole EMPATHY thing.
As a writer, you HAVE to make sure that ALL (I repeat: ALL) of your characters are EMPATHETIC ….. even the bad’uns. They deserve love just like everyone else. They don’t think they’re bad’uns, just misunderstood. But then, aren’t we all?
Watch this interview with John Stewart and David O. Russell, director of American Hustle. Empathy thing = spot on.
McKee’s advice: “If you can’t love them, don’t write them.”
Do you, as a writer, struggle with this?? What helps you LOVE your little darlings?