Skip to main content

Reader Identification: Believable & Not Perfect

Image placeholder title

Today's guest post is by Jim Adam. It is part of a series on
storytelling and The Strengths of the Potter Series. Check out Jim's
book, Motherless.

The Potter series does an excellent job of getting readers to identify with Harry and the other key characters in the story.

Consider
the Big Three. They are all basically decent and admirable in a moral
sense, valuing honesty, loyalty, friendship, and fairness. At the same
time, they aren’t saccharine, but are capable of stepping around
arbitrary rules in order to achieve a lofty goal—including the pursuit
of happiness by sneaking off to Honeyduke’s Sweet Shop.

In
addition, none of the Big Three are exactly perfect. They each have
their flaws (Ron’s insensitivity, Harry’s laziness, Hermione’s
perfectionism), and these imperfections make them more accessible, more
believable as human beings.

The Big Three are also capable of
making mistakes, sometimes rather large ones. They solve the mystery of
Book 1, for example, but do so erroneously, blaming Snape right up to
the moment when Harry pulls the cards out of the little folder, and
discovers it wasn’t Mr. Mustard after all.

Anti-heroes have
their place, as do pure heroes like Superman, but the Potter series
demonstrates the powerful draw of heroic-but-flawed characters. We
identify with the Big Three because being like them (spell-casting
aside) seems both possible and desirable.

Next in series: Tight Focus

Photo credit: HChalkley
--

Looking for more help on the craft of fiction? Check out our Elements of Fiction series:

Writing Nonfiction History vs. Historical Fiction

Writing Nonfiction History vs. Historical Fiction

Author John Cameron discusses how nonfiction history and historical fiction are more similar than they are different.

Bob Eckstein | Publishing Survival Tips

Top 10+ Survival Tips for Publishing

Poignant advice from some of the funniest people in publishing.

Zac Bissonnette: On the Passionate Community of Mystery Lovers

Zac Bissonnette: On the Passionate Community of Mystery Lovers

New York Times bestselling author Zac Bissonnette discusses the process of writing his new cozy mystery, A Killing in Costumes.

My Long, Winding, and Very Crooked Writing Journey

My Long, Winding, and Very Crooked Writing Journey

Every writer’s publishing story is different. Here, author Sharon M. Peterson shares her journey from writing to publishing.

Jeff Adams | Writer's Digest Indie Author Spotlight

Jeff Adams: Publishing Advice for Indie Authors

In this Indie Author Profile, romance novelist Jeff Adams shares his path to independent publishing and his advice for others considering that path.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Writer's Digest July/Aug 2022

The WD Interview: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The bestselling author of Mexican Gothic shares her approach to world-building, character development, and what she’s learned about the business of writing in this interview from the July/August 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

9 Pros and Cons of Writing a Newsletter

9 Pros and Cons of Writing a Newsletter

Thinking of starting your own newsletter? Let freelance writer Sian Meades-Williams lay out 9 pros and cons of writing a newsletter.

How to Write a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

How to Create a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

Learn how to create a compelling premise for a thriller or mystery novel by asking a simple question and tying it to a specific circumstance to set the stage for a thrilling read.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters make a plan.