Search for The Astral Dragon – Part Two: Emotional Bonding

Let’s continue analyzing the beginning of this story, this time with emotional bonding in mind.

Here is a link to the story’s first two chapters:

Story Development – A Space Adventure

This time we will look at the aspects I raised in the following post:

Writing Tips – Creating an Emotional Connection with Readers (Part One)

Here are the aspects I try to include when creating an emotional bond with readers:

  1. Physical need – A common handicap, illness, or negative environment
  2. Emotional issue – A need or desire that most have felt
  3. A purpose – A goal that most would find praiseworthy
  4. Urgency – The goal must be gained soon
  5. Obstacles – Barriers that readers would identify with
  6. Vulnerability – A soft spot to exploit
  7. Sacrifice – Character performs a sacrificial act to overcome obstacles

Physical need – For Megan, it’s a negative environment. Most of the other crew members are hostile toward her or at least think she shouldn’t be there.

Emotional issue – Megan has been torn from her parents, and she wants to find them.

A purpose – Megan hopes to prove herself, to show that she can do her job and is of value to the ship.

Urgency – Megan knows if she can’t prove herself right away, she won’t be able to stay on the ship.

Obstacles – Megan’s youth, gender, and size provide plenty of obstacles

Vulnerability – She is sensitive to being thought of as a pirate, a thief. She wants people to trust her.

Sacrifice – She risks danger to repair the ship and to keep Dirk from being sucked out into space.

In order to raise the urgency stakes, I might add the captain or one of the crew members saying that Megan should be sent to the orphan camp if she doesn’t do a better job. Also, her sacrificial acts will likely continue occurring with more and more risks to her own safety and comfort.

Any thoughts on these emotional-bond creators? Do you want to share how you have implemented these or other bond creators in your stories?

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7 replies

  1. I used the physical need for food in Hand of Steel. My characters need to make some money by getting a bounty to so they can afford food.
    Pirates make a good obstacle when it comes to acquiring bounties. This also shows that Krys is no match for pirates, and can get frightened when they grab er.

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  2. Hm…the story I’m focusing on now features several packs of wolves. There is a lot of tension between packmembers that gradually turns into larger and larger problems, and the main character is pulled into that. He also makes a friend at the beginning of the story that he cares about very much. I think a lot of people might form an emotional bond with the main character as his story progresses because they can sympathize with his desire to help his friend as well as cope with the behavior of the adults in his life. At the beginning, he sort of gets pulled along into unfortunate situations and when he becomes an adult, he has to struggle with setting boundaries and figuring out what decisions are best for him to make, instead of being a slave to what everyone else wants. I’ve noticed that that’s a struggle a lot of people go through, so I think those people at least may form a bond with this character.

    I guess in a way the main character’s situation hits a lot of those things you listed, but maybe not in a direct or expected way. When it comes to urgency, for instance, the urgency is the fact that there is tension between all the adult members of the pack, so the reader expects something bad to happen eventually, but they aren’t sure what that bad thing will be until much later. I think people tend to expect the urgency to come from the main character right away. But, instead, the character starts out not realizing how negative his environment is and things progress until he finds himself in negative situations he hates, then has to find solutions for.

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    • Since you have wolves as characters, you will have to work harder on emotional connection that you might with other stories. You have to get past the different-species boundary. But it looks like you have a good handle on it.

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      • That is a concern. I think giving them an intricate culture and human like motivations helps a lot. They have a lot of wolf like concerns and mannerisms, so they’ll hunt, growl at each other when angry, etc. But the characters also face a lot of human like things, like trying to help those that they care about and trying to negotiate with those outside their pack, so hopefully that will give readers something to identify with in the story. I think balancing the human concerns and characteristics with the traits of the animal characters is what helps make a good animal story.

        Have you read the Wings of Fire series by Tui T Sutherland?

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        • Since you are aware of the issue and understand what to do, I am confident that you can make it work.

          I have not read that series.

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          • Ah, ok. The discussion of animal stories kind of reminded me about that series, and I was just curious since you seem to like dragons. Well, the series is pretty good and has some very well developed characters and situations, so they’d be worth checking out if you were looking for something to read.

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