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

Love, like Every Moment could be the Last

Today is Valentine’s day.

Being generally opposed to commercialism, my wife and I don’t support Valentine’s day. I don’t need mass-marketing to tell me that I should express love to my wife, and the fact that I am told I am supposed to do something on a given day turns the act into an obligation, not a spontaneous gift.

I wouldn’t normally even write a Valentine’s day-featuring post, however I just heard a story which deserves repeating.

I met a woman who lost her husband to an aggressive form of cancer; from diagnosis to death was just ten weeks.

I cannot begin to imagine the immense rush of emotions that this situation would cause. The loss of a spouse would be brutal under any circumstances, but the less warning the worse it would be.

The truth is we never know how long we have on this earth. It may be a life longer than the average, or it could be that this is our last day.

If you are fortunate enough to be married, then bless that relationship by investing in it daily. Each and every day should be a day where your spouse is reminded – in word and action – of your love. Show them love by communicating it to them in the way that they receive it, not just the way that you want to receive it. (Don’t know what I’m referring to? Read ‘The Five Love Languages’ or better yet ‘His Needs, Her Needs’).

Married or unmarried, then make an effort to regularly communicate your love and appreciation to your friends and family. If they were gone tomorrow, what would you wish you had said today?

Life is too short to hold onto bitterness and unforgiveness, which does more damage to you than anyone else. Wake up thankful for each day, and resolve to go to bed each night with no regrets and no important words unsaid.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8