Trouble connecting with main character

Question: A friend of mine read the first few chapters of my novel and helped me pinpoint a major problem: my introverted main character is becoming lost amid several other characters with big personalities and it's hard to connect with or care for him. How can I build sympathy and help readers connect with this shy character?


Answer: Well, without actually seeing the text, it's hard to give a definitive answer, but here are a few thoughts...

1. Are you writing in 3rd person or 1st? With an introverted main character, 1st person might be a better approach because it keeps the reader in touch with his thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Introverted people have a lot going on inside that the reader might be interested in -- including his reactions to the big personalities around him.

2. Even in third person, you can keep the focus on the main character by using limited narration. That is, you describe only what the main character perceives moment by moment (unlike omniscient narration in which you narrate from an objective perspective, like a fly on the wall).

3. Think about giving the main character a unique voice -- a style of expressing himself or an attitude that comes through in the narration.

4. Give the reader a reason to care about the main character. Some tricks for doing this include...

* Making him an underdog.
* Giving him problems the reader can relate to.
* Making him funny, charming, or likeable.
* Show him wrestling with a difficult problem or situation right away.
* Make him admirable in some way.

5. Also, ask yourself why you wanted to make this guy the main character in the first place. His personal journey should be one that you really want to tell, because it will be entertaining and challenging and meaningful. You need to be in love with the character yourself so that you want to spend a lot of time writing about his journey -- and that passion will come through in the writing so that the reader will want to spend a lot of time with this character too.

If you know why you chose this guy as the main character, then you will know how you want his journey to begin and that will put the focus on him in those early chapters.

Best of luck.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.


Proud to be one of the...


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero