1. Put your character in jeopardy.
Unless you’ve given your audience a reason to dislike your character before your story begins, this is an no-doubt way to grab their sympathy.
2. Make your character good at what they do.
Be it a good sense of humour (audiences will forgive characters who are “funny” for almost anything), a knack for science, a thirst for the outdoors, or just a smooth communicator, audiences will identify with characters who show that they are in touch with their own power.
3. Place your character in a familiar setting.
This one’s pretty straightforward. Audiences will easily identify with a character who inhabits a place similar to theirs (but that’s no excuse for boring stories - just because the setting is mundane doesn’t mean the story has to be).
4. Make your character the victim of undeserved misfortune.
This seems to be the most popular. Be it a car accident, an injury, bad partner, financial loss, or injustice as the result of a corrupt system, this is the perhaps the easiest way audiences to gain empathy for your character/underdog.
TIP: Make sure you introduce your protagonist as soon as possible within your story and DON’T reveal their flaws before you’ve given the audience a reason to identify with them.
And remember, your audience doesn’t have to LIKE your protagonist, but they must be able to IDENTIFY with them (otherwise they won’t give two shits about them).
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