Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

How to Get the Reader to Care About Your Protagonist #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Getting the reader to care about your protagonist is important to the success of your novel or memoir. Yes, the action of the story is important, but if the reader doesn’t care what happens to your protagonist, the story falls flat.

People care about people or any thinking creature you create. But they need a reason to care. Lots of things can happen in a story. We as writers need to make the story personal by telling the tale of one specific person. The reader needs to see how what happens in the story affects one particular character. Make the story specific to someone the reader cares about.

But how do we do that?  How do we get someone who doesn’t know our characters the way we do, care about what happens to them? Now I’m not saying that I have all the answers. Wouldn’t that be nice? I wouldn’t need to struggle to get my own stories down on paper if this were simple.

Let’s start by asking a few questions.

Who was this protagonist before the inciting incident, before the story present? There’s a broad question. Rein it in and try and think of answers, or scenes, that relate to your story situation or problem, both internal and external. What type of family or friend relationships did she have? Were these relationships important to her? Why?

Think about your protagonist’s profession before the story began. Why did she choose that profession? What were her beliefs at that time? Why did these things matter to her?

Whatever the internal problem is in the story, how did the protagonist come to deal with that problem? What happened in the first place to make her believe in this internal problem?

And most importantly, how did those around the protagonist feed that internal problem?

If we look at my college memoir, how did Victoria go from having trouble in third grade to not going to college?

Think in scenes or summary:
Victoria struggled throughout elementary school.
Victoria did better in middle school and wanted to sign up for college prep in high school.
Victoria’s father didn’t think she was capable of college work just because she was on the honor roll by middle school.
Victoria took secretarial courses in high school to be a secretary like Mom and friends.
Victoria’s siblings did not go to college either.

How did Victoria meet her husband? Where did she work after high school? Did she consider going to college after getting married?
No. She still believed she was that girl her father claimed was “not college material.”

How about after having a few children? Did she consider college then?
Nope! She was knee deep in babies and running the home to consider college.

Didn’t Victoria struggle with her inferiority before attending college as an adult?
All the time. She saw herself in her learning-disabled first born. Victoria struggled to help her daughter with her education and therefore her younger children as well. But she felt totally inferior to those college-educated people in the public education system.

There are more questions to ask to explain to the reader who Victoria was; how she got that way; and why it matters in her life. When I started writing my manuscript, I didn’t believe these questions were pertinent to my college journey, my memoir story. But they are!

As a writer, you are looking for personal information about your character to answer these questions. Readers are inquisitive. They want to know what makes your protagonist tick. Why she believes and acts the way she does in the story present. Good things, bad things. The reader wants to cheer for your protagonist as the story moves forward. We want readers to care what happens to her. Win or lose. Readers want to care about someone specific.

Please ask any questions about my college memoir and share any insight you may have in the comments section of Adventures in Writing about how you get readers to care about your characters. Thanks so much!

And thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: How are things in your world during this troubling time?

In my little corner of the world in my home, we are well. Thank you, God! I’ve had four writing presentations at area libraries and assisted living homes cancelled so far. My next presentation is scheduled on April 10th. Here’s hoping life will be up and running by then.

However as New Jersey shuts down around us, my children are home. Once again, they turn to me for something to do. I have always entertained my children in the past. But they’re grown now. The ones who have left, bring their little ones home to visit. I adore them all. I can’t resist my grandbabies. And my children know it. My husband is home, too. I am extremely lucky.


I’m searching for solitude to write. To create. The state has closed my library. I hide in my room, with the door locked. But everyone in my family still remembers how to giggle the doorknob and call my name. It’s amazing!

My oldest, who has learning issues, is trying to sign up for unemployment. Yes! Like thousands of other people in the United States. And guess what? She can’t do it alone, so we are trying to assist. And we are having trouble getting through. No surprise. But another part of her disability is no patience—and whining.

With all the difficulties in the world, it’s important to stay positive. So I’m starting with my thoughts. We are healthy. We are together, for the most part. We share meals. We check in on our friends and the elderly by phone. Flowers and trees are popping and spring is here in the northern hemisphere.

And if the Lord blesses me with a scrap of dialogue or a sentence of illumination for my memoir about attending college as a mother of five, or if I have another short story idea, I write them on pieces of paper and stick them in a binder with two labels: Memoir and Short Stories. Then I shove the binder under my bed and lock my room.

            I truly hope you and your loved ones are safe and well. How do you find time and space to write in these difficult times?

I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing game.

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.