I love Sherlock Holmes. Detective stories have always fascinated me (thus my choice in career), but Sherlock Holmes has always intrigued me more than most. Maybe because The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first book I ever remember bringing me to the edge of my seat.
I was in second grade. It must have been a children’s version of the story, because it’s somewhat of a difficult read for many adults, but I remember my heart pounding, my palms sweaty, my mind racing as this terrifying “dog from hell” raced up on Holmes and Watson. That day, I fell in love with both reading and mysteries.
Being able to make people not only suspend disbelief but want to, is a skill. Not everyone has it. But how do you foster willful suspension of disbelief?
My favorite way is when you make me care about your character. Give me something in a character I can identify with, something I can understand, something that resonates with me, and you’ve hooked me. It’s why Holmes has Dr. Watson. Holmes by himself is less than interesting; he’s an arrogant, hyper-intelligent man who has little use for the common man. But Dr. Watson is someone you can empathize with. He’s a fairly smart person (who we all believe ourselves to be) with a friend/coworker/roommate who routinely infers (or outright states) that he’s an idiot. Holmes is trying, frustrating, and, worst of all, agonizing correct. Together, they are compelling characters that draw me back again and again.
What are your tricks of the trade? How do you make me care about your character?