Top 6 Ways to Make People Like You…(adapted to character building!)
1. Encourage people to talk about themselves
Does your protagonist talk about herself all the time? How about having another character ask her questions…preferably a character that you want your readers to like? Or, have your protagonist ask other characters about themselves, and let them tell us things about the world we are building? Two great ways to minimize the risk of a character coming across as self-centered or annoying.
2. To give feedback, ask questions
If your protagonist has a lot of the answers and just blurts them out, bossing everyone around…who’s gonna like him? Instead, have him take this advice and watch your readers fall in love with him! The point gets made, but the character doesn’t come across as a bore…unless you WANT him to be a bore, in which case…ignore this advice thoroughly!
3. Ask for advice
We want our protagonist (especially) to be the one who takes action and drives the story forward…but getting advice along the way is great. And asking for it is even better than simply receiving it. This way, they are taking action and acting humble or involving others in the plan.
4. The two-question technique
“Ask them about something positive in their life. Only after they reply should you ask them how they’re feeling about life in general.” This one, I think can work both ways. We are, as writers, hoping to impact our readers in strong, emotional ways…so, turn it around, if that fits the scene goals better!
5. Repeat the last three words
Most of us have heard this one before. I’m not so sure it could be used in a “subtle” way on paper, as a reader would pick up on it pretty quickly. Want a character to say a lot, but don’t want it to sound like a monologue. Let the listening character use this technique, and it breaks up the monologue without diluting the message.
6. Gossip — but positively
(a) Consider Bella in Twilight. She reflects on her fellow students a lot…but, Stephanie Meyer keeps her firmly in the realm of basic information, descriptive one-liners, humor or irony, sensitive and aware. Even when a girl is being mean outright mean, Bella simply thinks something like, “Oh…it’s going to be one of those days.” We end up thinking that Bella doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.
(b) Have something to say about politics, the world, or other stiff topics? Definitely avoid the harsh comment that comes across as a jab by the author (through her character) and strive to find the positive to highlight that we wish there was more of that. If you can get the point across without offending a section of your potential readership…do it!
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