Simple Ways to Endear Readers to a Character

by Leigh Holland

Maybe you’re writing an anti-hero with a dark past and a grumpy-even-after-coffee attitude. Perhaps the main character is a beautiful femme fatale trying to become worthy of the trust of someone special. The characters are tough, bad to the bone, and deeply flawed. What are some simple ways we can endear readers to them early on, before they have their opportunity to change and grow?

  1. She holds the elevator or door for an elderly person, telling them to take their time.
  2. He smiles at a stranger’s child in public.
  3. Babies and pets naturally trust and adore the character and he has a soft spot in his heart for them.
  4. She treats an unpopular or outcast person with respect.
  5. Sure, he’s a killer, but he gives blood every two months; perhaps he volunteers with the local charity to build homes for the homeless.
  6. She shovels snow off her neighbor’s drive.
  7. He drops a large bill into the homeless person’s hat while others ignore him.
  8. Someone ahead in line is short 2 dollars to pay for their order- she makes up the difference.
  9. He lets women cut line in front of him when they have just an item or two.
  10. She prays every night before bed.
  11. He’s a good boy who calls his mother.
  12. She visits grandpa in the nursing home every Saturday and brings him his favorite chewing tobacco.
  13. He sees a lost child crying and helps her find her mother.
  14. She compliments everyone she meets at least once every day.
  15. He cleans up a mess he didn’t make.
  16. She recycles fervently and plants a tree each Earth Day- she always has.
  17. When someone else speaks at the same time he does, he defers and asks them to continue.
  18. She breaks something in a store by accident, but instead of hiding it, she pays for it.
  19. He calls his wife at lunch each day to tell her he loves her more with each passing day.
  20. She helps her neighbor find his dog.
  21. She gives up her seat on a bus for an elderly or disabled person.
  22. He refuses to spread gossip, preferring to discover the truth. man-and-cigarette
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