BrianWFoster’s Twelfth Law of Writing

Twelfth Law: Make the Reader Care

Repeat after me, “Readers do not care about events.  They care about characters.”

Get that concept down before moving on.  Reread it.  Reread it again.

To engage the reader, you must make him care.  To make him care, do the following:

  1. Give the reader a relatable character – Introduce the character early with a name.  Give the character faults.  Put thought into why the reader should root for the character and work on establishing those reasons.
  2. Filter events through the character – A death, a battle, or losing a job all have the potential to evoke an emotional reaction in the reader.  On their own, however, they are meaningless.  Go find a history textbook and read the facts of a battle.  Were you moved?  Did you cry at the deaths or relish the success of the victors?  Probably not.  Read about the same battle as told through the eyes of one of the survivors.  You’ll feel what he felt.  Relate to the reader how the POV character feels about the events.

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