HOW TO USE THE PLOT TO CREATE SYMPATHY
We talked yesterday about using your personal emotions to allow a story to develop. The idea was to think of a topic that brings about emotion, and then use that emotion to form a story. This method can be used with any emotion or affinity.
Let’s say that I hate bunnies. I mean bunnies are the bane of my existence. If I could get rid of them, then the world would be a better place.
This is a facetious example to show how my emotions about a particular person, place, thing, or idea can be used to generate conflict. We don’t even have to go the with the “fantasy-genre” killer rabbit story. Let’s take your everyday innocent bunny. You know…the ones with the floppy ears and the fur that just makes your fingers tingle. Yeahhh….those kinda’ bunnies.
Now we add a POV character, a father. He’s a farmer trying to provide for his family. The drought has been going on for the past three years, and people are beginning to buy from other farmers because our POV character no longer sells produce that’s worth eating. He’s in danger of losing his house, and he fears that his family will starve if he can’t produce a crop.
He finally starts seeing some productivity, and then the bunnies come along. These bunnies nibble away at his crop, and the more the farmer grows, the more of a nuisance they become.
Let’s go further. He has a five-year-old daughter who adores these beasts (notice the intense language to CONTROL the reader’s feelings about these creatures). The daughter is a daddy’s girl who follows her father around everywhere. Each day she puts on her overalls, just like her dad, and she fumbles around in the garden, even though she’s not doing any work. Before she comes inside at night, she’ll usually dust her pants off with some dirt so she can look filthy…just like her dad.
One day she sees him outside with his rifle, and he fires and kills a few of the bunnies. The daughter is traumatized, and she hates him for it. She burns her overalls, and she never wants to talk to him again.
At this point, you can choose your own ending. Either the dad loses his house to try to regain his daughter’s trust by not killing the rabbits. Or whatever. But the point here is that you’ve taken your hatred for rabbits, and you’ve channeled it into a story to create sympathy for your characters.
Keep this in mind. See how this story makes you, the reader, dislike the bunnies too. That’s what you’re going for. We are trying to persuade the reader of the point that we want to make: bunnies are sinister!
For more information on constructing a premise, please read WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT.