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I do guest creative writing workshops at universities. One thing that strikes me time and time again is that the students are bright, switched-on and creative. But often, their manuscripts are pretty much unsellable. THREAD>>
#WritingCommunity #amwriting #writingadvice
Although well-written, they tend to lack the one thing readers need in order to connect: a reason to care.
Over and over, I've been presented with epics about wars between good and evil kingdoms, unlikeable anti-heroes, and exotic fantasy races. And while the worlds are meticulously built, there's just no reason for the audience to give a crap about any of it.
In order to capture the reader, the stakes must be personal. We must have reason to root for your characters, and care what happens to them. We must be able to identify with their primal desires - sex, vengeance, fear of death, etc.
And they must do something early in the story that gets us on their side. In Star Wars, we sympathise with Luke feeling like life's passing him by on the farm. In Die Hard, when John Maclane's conversation with Argyle shows us he's a flawed by likeable chap trying to
save his marriage. So by the time Nakatomi Plaza gets overrun by terrorists, we're already firmly on Maclane's side. If he was just a stone cold killing machine with no personal life, we probably wouldn't care too much.
But the fact he's trying to save his wife, and get to see his kids, gives us a reason to identify with him and want him to succeed. He isn't there to fight terrorists; he's there by accident.
I guess what I'm saying is, give us a reason to relate to your characters, even if they are repellent antiheroes, and we will follow them into the story. Give me an opening chapter about the histories of this dynasty and that kingdom, and I'll close the book.
Give me great characters fighting for goals I can relate to, and I'll keep right on reading.
This lack of concrete advice for creative writing students is the reason I wrote ABOUT WRITING: A FIELD GUIDE FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS - coming in June from @LunaPressGlobal

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