Have you ever met a person and no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t connect with him or her? Sometimes, an individual might carry themselves with a haughty tip of the nose as if they are looking down upon you. We might realize that they care nothing for ethics, morality, or legalities. On occasion, someone might just grate our last nerves, and we can’t figure out why.
Well, that’s real life. What about fiction?
There’s the old adage, “You never get a chance to make a first impression.” This is true in real life and in the lives of our heroes and heroines.
Don’t get me wrong. Our star characters can have flaws. They can fail at something, but 99.9% of our heroes and heroines should be likeable from the start of a manuscript. Don’t allow characters to make a bad first impression. Connect the reader to a hero and heroine by showing their good sides. Then, if a character fails, the reader will care enough to want him or her to do better.
If your plot is such that the hero or heroine has a drastic character arc, one which requires them to make an awful first impression, give the reader something that makes him care for the character no matter how small. In the novel, Mother of My Son (Harbourlight Books), author Rachel Allord introduces a heroine who does something most women would never think of doing, but the author shortly thereafter connects the reader with the character by showing us the life she has lived, the people who seem never truly to have loved her, and the one person who does lover her. The reader wants her to overcome the difficult childhood and to receive the miracle of redemption and recovery that only God can bring.
When editing your work, decide if the failures and flaws of your characters can wait a scene or two. If not, work hard to show that your main character is attempting to overcome that bad first impression.