Want to quickly create interest in your story?
Create empathy in your main character.
Insight From a Hollywood Insider
Michael Hague is a leading Hollywood script writing consultant. He believes that you create empathy in one of three ways:
- Create sympathy
- Show the character in jeopardy
- Highlight that person’s likability
Consider some of the best-known characters in movie history:
Indiana Jones. Luke Skywalker. Jack Dawson (in Titanic).
Why Are Audiences Attracted to These People?
We feel a connection with them. For example, isn’t Indiana Jones a likable character? He’s smart, funny and adventurous. He leads a double life that many people find appealing.
Also, he consistently finds himself in precarious situations. Some of these put his life at risk. Furthermore, he doesn’t always succeed. We feel sympathy for him because of his failure.
The Unexpected Hero
Consider the story of Luke Skywalker. An orphan living on a desolate planet. He leads a boring life on his uncle’s farm. He dreams of flying ships in space. This creates sympathy for him. At some point in your life, haven’t you felt trapped? Haven’t you dreamed of a better life?
Although he’s whiny, he’s a likable kid. He’s loyal, friendly and ambitious. You want to see him succeed.
He consistently faces hazardous situations: Chased by storm troopers. Nearly crushed in a giant trash compactor. Facing the risk of being shot down by the bad guys.
A Titanic Example
In the movie ‘Titanic,’ Jack Dawson (Leonardo Dicaprio) is a likable street hustler. He wins his way aboard the maiden voyage of the Titanic. He’s good looking, charming and has a carefree attitude. You feel sympathy for him because of how he’s treated by high society. His life is in danger once the Titanic hits the iceberg.
Each of these characters elicits empathy from us. They meet Michael Hauge’s three criteria.
Everyday Characters Are Just As Compelling
Most likely, you’re not writing a movie. That’s OK. You can still write interesting tales about compelling individuals.
For example, consider a financial planner, Lisa. She works with widows. To attract new business, she could tell the story of Judy, a recently-widowed client.
She could describe how Judy’s husband, Jerry, died unexpectedly at age 53. He left her in charge of their business. As a bookkeeper, Judy had no experience running a company. To make matters worse, some of her top clients are considering leaving for a competitor.
Despite these circumstances, she continued to maintain her optimistic and fun-loving personality.
Judy wants to continue working with Lisa because of her professionalism and commitment. She has helped Judy through the most difficult time of her life.
The Power of Relatable Characters
Will Judy’s story get the attention of widows who are looking for financial help?
Absolutely. Judy is relatable because she’s sympathetic, her lifestyle is in jeopardy and she’s likable.
Lisa has the first step to a meaningful and memorable story.
If you want to create an impactful message, start with a compelling central character. Follow Michael Hauge’s formula. You’ll be well on your way to a story that makes a difference.
Michael Hauge’s website StoryMastery.com.
Michael offers unique perspective on the craft of storytelling. His background is a movie and TV script consultant. However, his ideas will help you craft stories that improve your business and sales presentations.
To benefit from Michael’s experience, and sign up for his weekly points of wisdom, click here.