In his book, The Story Solution, author Eric Edson discusses the importance of creating a protagonist the audience can identify with.  He offers up “a list of nine ingredients for use in creating a sympathetic response when bonding an audience to your hero” (Edson 14).  

These traits include:

  • Courage – “You hero has got to have guts” (Edson 15).
  • Unfair Injury – “puts the hero in a position where he’s compelled to DO something” (16).
  • Skill – “It doesn’t matter what the hero’s field of endeavor might be, as long as he’s an expert at it” (17).
  • Funny – “We warm to people who make us laugh” (19).
  • Just Plain Nice – “simply show the audience that your hero has a good heart” (19).
  • In Danger – “the imminent threat of personal harm or loss” (20).
  • Loved by Friends and Family – “If we’re shown right off that the hero is already loved by other people, it gives us immediate permission to care about them, too” (21).
  • Hard Working – “People who work hard have the rising energy to drive a story forward” (21).
  • Obsessed – “keeps brave, skilled, hard-working heroes focused on a single goal” (21).

Think about your favorite movie or TV character.  Which combination of the above traits do they possess that makes them a sympathetic main character?

Below is a video of Eric Edson discussing these traits in more detail:

Check out more about his book, The Story Solution, at his website below:

See you next time!

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