How does the author affect the audience?
The best stories all have a way of captivating their readers. Sometimes it’s the character development or the plot, but one of the best ways to draw readers in is by giving them something to relate to. By expanding on a character’s struggles and life issues, the characters become more common and relatable to the readers. An all-powerful being with no issues or problems sounds interesting, but a more down to earth character who struggles with everyday life issues draws in the readers with their compatible nature and their weaknesses.
In the video above, John Truby describes what makes a character so captivated and so entranced by a character. The characters make up the story, so it’s the author’s job to use them effectively and mold a character who is able to capture the attention of the readers and display the message that the author is trying to send out. John Truby also goes on to explain how the goals and weaknesses of a character are what define them and connect them to the audience. People are naturally drawn to others with similar goals because they understand the process of achieving their goals and being successful. The best stories usually have a character fighting to accomplish a single goal, sometimes with many obstacles hindering them from their ultimate objective. Although a character’s goal attracts attention, another important aspect of any character are their weaknesses. Humans tend to notice the flaws more than the strengths of a person, and in a story, weaknesses are more accentuated than ever. The characters in the story are always displayed, revealing everything about them and pointing out their weak spots, whether it be physical or mental. The real hook that draws in more interest from the readers is how the characters deal with their issues. A struggling drug addict who’s trying to right his wrongs or a poor man who struggles with his poverty every day evoke feelings of sympathy and sometimes understanding from the audience. Sometimes the characters fight to overcome their weaknesses, and sometimes they embrace their flaws and shape their life to adjust to their setback. Either way, their goals and their weaknesses make the audience care about them more and relate to their struggles.
Another method that authors use to affect their audience is by embedding life lessons in their stories. A harrowing account of a traumatic experience or a fond recalling of better times seem so different, yet both can serve the same purpose: to give the audience a lesson or a simple phrase for them to remember throughout their lives.
Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street is riddled with multiple life lessons, all linking to one specific message: Don’t forget where you came from. Throughout the story, Cisnero imparts her life lessons through the main character, Esparanza Cordero. A particular example of a life lesson comes in page 47 when Cisnero vividly describes Esparanza’s embarrassment of not wanting to dance because she is ashamed of how shabby her clothes look. “Meanwhile that boy who is my cousin by first communion or something asks me to dance and I can’t. Just stuff my feet under the metal folding chair stamped Precious Blood and pick on a wad of brown gum that’s stuck beneath the seat. I shake my head no. My feet growing bigger and bigger.” The story goes on to recount how Esparanza’s uncle shook her out of her shame by leading her to dance with him and how her embarrassment was swept away by her extraordinary dancing. Not only does Cisnero perfectly connect to her audience with a story about being embarrassed, she also gives the audience a subtle lesson on how the only thing that holds us back is ourselves. Life lessons that are meaningful and connect with the readers are an important way of how authors draw in their audience’s attention and leave them with an important message.
In another article, Martha Alderson explains how the right emotions are what helps the authors affect their audience. A story usually has a dynamic character that undergoes a massive change throughout the story. While change is typically associated with a physical adaptation, the mental modifications to a character are what bridge the gap between reader and character. A dynamic change in how a character sees the world or how their typical nature has changed draws the audience in because of the feelings that it arouses. Typically, popular dynamic characters go through an excursion where they face daunting challenges that erode their weaker traits until they emerge a changed person, sometimes physically, sometimes mentally, but the best ones contain a mix of both. But the journey is more important than the ending, and authors captivate their readers’ minds by making the plot complicated and entrancing the readers to eventually root for the protagonist. An equally important part of capturing the reader’s attention is to provoke the right emotions from them. Alderson explains how the description of the character’s emotions, whether they’re jubilant, depressed, tired, or calculating, the description of the emotions and the setting of the scene play into how effective the emotions are. A basic description cannot connect the readers with the characters effectively, so the author must be able to paint the picture for the readers to truly see the message. The readers can only experience the emotions and truly be connected to the characters if the authors are able to paint such a vivid picture with description and the right words so that the readers could replace the characters and feel the exact emotions and understand the exact message the author is trying to send.
In summation, the author affects the audience by use of the characters. Making the characters relatable through struggles and trials helps to unite the readers together. The plot development and important events help string the story together and give small life lessons. And the specific emotions that are extremely descriptive and allow the reader to be in the moment with the characters is ultimately what ties the whole message together. Authors have to go through a lot to find the right story, and their perseverance to find the right story and character to send the right message is a trait that is hard to find.