We all love to read books where we bond with the characters. Where we don't want the story to end, because the characters are so wonderful. I've watched The Princess Bride dozens of time because I loved the character Inigo Montoya. He stole the show from the Dread Pirate Wesley. Fezzik was great as well, and together, they just made the best duo. I didn't want the story to end. So I bought the novel, which was even better--and funnier!--than the movie. I've owned two copies of that novel and have read it multiple times.
Another character that I absolutely loved was Paksenarrion from The Deed of Paksenarrion. Paks had some interesting flaws. She was sometimes slow-witted, and she was completely asexual. But she was also completely likable. Elizabeth Moon put the reader so firmly in the character's head that before the end of the trilogy, you may be shedding tears over her.
But how do we, as writers, establish such lovable characters? I'm not sure I know the answer, but it makes sense to me that first, we must love our characters, ourselves. One thing I do to bond with my characters is write scenes that enable me to get to know my own characters. I consider these scenes disposable. I call them pilot scenes because they work like a pilot chute. A pilot chute is a tiny parachute that draws out the big parachute. A pilot scene draws out the larger story.
Here is a pilot scene for my WIP, which is a time travel historical. In this scene, the character--Mike--is walking around town, getting to know the 1920s. Ashley is his sister. They are from the present day.
Passing gentlemen tipped their hats--whatever they had, be it old derbies, cowboy hats or fedoras. They eyed him as they said good morning, and his hatless head started to feel naked. When he saw an store ahead of him, he decided to go in. The name of the store, F. W. Woolworth Co., looked familiar.Not a lot of action, just introspection. I'm not sure if I'll keep it but for now, it's still in my manuscript.
He found himself something that looked like a drug store. He wandered up and down aisles, his eyes leaping with fascination from one object to another. Toward the back of the store, he found inexpensive men's clothing. He picked out a fedora, took it to the counter, and paid for it. It was $3.50.
He settled it on its head as he walked out the door, as he had seen men do, and he resumed his stroll. He started wandering up and down random streets. It was impossible to get lost for long. Too far north, and you hit the trolley line. Too far south, and you reached a golf course. Too far east and west, you hit water. He wandered for hours, taking it all in, wondering if Ashley would worry, and smiling when the thought hit him that she would have surely called his cell phone by now.
Her company was never onerous, but he had not felt so free since he was a boy.
How do you establish a bond with your characters? Please share in the comments. Please keep any excerpts to 300 words or fewer.