Creating Connection with Characters
I've talked quite a bit about characterization in the past but that's because it is one of the most important elements to your story. You can have a fantastic, original plot with in-depth settings and fully developed worlds but without rich characters to propel the plot and fill the world your story falls flat.
One of the main reasons good characters can make or break a story is due to what's called "emotional investment."
This is especially important in the case of a serial. Whether a novel series, TV series, or even a movie franchise, the audience needs to become emotionally invested in the characters in order for them to want to continue the journey through each book, episode, or film.
Case in point: The Walking Dead
On the surface it can almost be said it is just a story about zombies. But what sets it apart from the others is the rich characterization of this rag-tag group of survivors trying to make it through the post apocalyptic world.
One of the biggest draws is the diversity of the characters. This allows a reach to a broad audience as there is something for everyone to to latch onto and empathize with. And that doesn't just mean race or gender, but also character archetype.
Another important factor in character development is the progression of the character. In reality we change as people everyday based on our experiences. So for Walking Dead's extreme set of circumstances it would seem silly if the characters went through all the trauma and didn't change in some way...it would also be boring to the audience and leave them with flat characters rather than characters with layers.
It makes all the difference when you have a harrowing cliffhanger putting characters in peril. Over 17 million viewers tuned in to see who perished at the hands of Neegan and when they found out who it was it was literally heartbreaking to some. I mean people even called in sick to work the next day! Why? Because of "emotional investment."
Good characters get under your skin and make you root for them as you go along on the journey. So in your own writing remember to make your characters fully-developed. All you have to do is think about the types of characters - or even real life people - who you gravitate towards and use that as a starting point.