Making Readers Care

Does the reader actually care about the protagonist? If they don’t, it doesn’t matter what happens – they just won’t care.

I am indebted to one of my readers who reminded me of this scene from Pixar’s Up (and the uploader… and Pixar). I can still remember being affected by it at the cinemas when I first saw it. In just four and a half minutes, we are deeply emotionally attached to the protagonist.

It shows massive skill when a cartoon (that we know is entirely fake) can cause a strong emotional response in an adult. (In fact perhaps they did it too well, I think that sad-feeling lingered with me throughout the movie).

Looking at the components of the clip:

  • it starts by showing us two people in love.
  • They establish their life together and have hopes and dreams, which they start out achieving. They are romantic and optimistic.
  • They prepare for the future with children and then their dreams are dashed with loss of the child (and the dream).
  • He does what he can to lift her spirits and they start to dream again, making a promise to one another to achieve it.
  • Then life happens. They are still in love, enjoying one another’s companionship.and then he realises their chance of reaching their dreams has almost passed.
  • And then, before he can remedy the situation, unexpectedly illness strikes. No longer together, he must live on without her.

At this stage the hurt is palpable in the watcher. I can feel it in my throat as it tightens.

This is such a powerful scene because we can relate to it.  We all want the best for our loved ones, to have their dreams and to always be with them.

Now I just need to work out how to do this with words (without being cheesy). Any recommendations of stories where other authors do this well? Continue reading

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