Reader Identification: Believable & Not Perfect

Author:
Publish date:

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:

20_most_popular_writing_posts_of_2020_robert_lee_brewer

20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.

Malden_1:16

Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.

capital_vs_capitol_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Dulan_1:14

On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.

Brandt_1:14

Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.

plot_twist_story_prompts_moment_of_doubt_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Moment of Doubt

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character experience a moment of doubt.