Thursday, April 5, 2012

A-Z Challenge..."E"

"E" is for Empathy

Missy Tippens, here. As Lindi said, this month we'll be blogging about heroes and heroines for the A-Z Challenge. I want to talk about what makes us like a hero (or heroine). And how, as writers, we can make sure our readers love the ones we create.

To make someone fall in love with our main characters, we have to create reader empathy.

My favorite resource for instruction on how to do this is Michael Hauge and Chris Vogler's DVD series The Hero's Two Journeys.

Two of my favorite techniques Hauge mentions are
--to make my hero the victim of some undeserved misfortune
--to make my hero an especially likeable or good person

In my most recent release, A House Full of Hope, the heroine is a widowed mom of four struggling to buy a house and create the idyllic home for her kids. With her husband dying, she's the victim of undeserved misfortune. I also tried to show her being a good, caring person.

In the same story, the hero was a former bad boy who has come home seeking redemption. And no one wants to have anything to do with him--including his dad. So we see him being the victim of misfortune right off the bat, because he's trying so hard to apologize and make things right.

I had fun with these people! I hope readers will empathize with them and root for them to find their happy ending.

Can you think about your favorites in books you've read? What made you root for them?


  1. I love characters that I can empathise with, the books I love most are the ones where I see a tiny bit of myself in, or where I sort of fall in love with the character for being so likeable or for the fact that I want them to just be happy!

    Nikki – inspire nordic

  2. Good point, Nikki. You know, I think books that I love most have me fall in love with the hero. I think I empathize more with the heriones but fall for the heroes. :)

  3. I only read books where I care enough about the main characters to root for them. Reading is such a great way to learn empathy. Good E word!

    Nice to meet you, and I hope you are enjoying the Challenge!

    A to Z Challenge Host

  4. What I really love is a when a writer can make me root for the villain. When I can have empathy for the villain, I know that is a dag on good writer. It also fits with my character, though. I want to believe there is something redeemable in people, and if the villain can also find redemption, I can see the best opportunity for salvation having it's perfect way. I'm a dreamer! This is a great post and I am enjoying the A2Z entries from the F.A.I.T.H. girls

  5. Wonderful post for E. I've been a big fan of Vogler's since I met him @ 7 years ago - wonderful speaker.

    New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.


  6. I like this technique you're talking about Missy. It's all about rooting for the character for me. That's what I like in movies too.