I am a part of a site where querying authors share the feedback they receive from agents. Most agents have some kind of a form letter, where they mention that they weren’t pulled in by the writing or that they didn’t fall in love with the story as much as they had hoped or that they didn’t connect with the main character enough, to follow him or her through the rest of the story (all these are polite ways of letting the writers down). Trying to take the sting out of the rejection.
To solve this puzzle of how to get readers emotionally involved in our story, I have been reading many writing craft books. The theory is that the faster a reader’s emotions are invested in both the main character and the story, the more tuned in they will be, the more eager they will be to turn the pages to find out what is happening to the main character and the story.
One way to grab the readers’ emotions as soon as possible is by ensuring that the main character has the readers’ sympathy. If that has been done, then the readers will continue reading, to know what will happen next in the story. By this the writing instructors don’t mean that we must create sad and pitiable characters, they are trying to say that we must ensure that readers connect emotionally with the character from page one. We can do this in ways that suit our story.
In a nutshell the advice we are getting is that we should push the problems our protagonists face in the story, right into the first chapter to snag readers’interest. No hanging around till the middle of the book for it to happen, because by then the reader may have lost interest in the story.
What’s your take on this? Have you followed this in your own books? Do you agree with this logic?