Why readers love the underdog #writing #amwriting

In all aspects of life, people are drawn to the underdog.

  • the geek who saves the planet and gets the girl/boy, while the jock is passed by.
  • the outsider team with part-time players who topple the mighty favorite with the money and star players.
  • the ‘David’ meets ‘Goliath’.
  • the poor farm boy / girl who becomes the great warrior / saves the universe / becomes the hero of the quest.

There is a reason why we love the underdog, and it all comes down to psychology.

As a writer, understanding the reasons and psychology behind our love of underdog characters can greatly help us when we are crafting our work.

Why do we love the underdog?

1. Challenge

As the saying goes, no pain, no gain.

The greater the effort required, and the closer, more nail-biting the ending is, the greater our sense of fulfillment and achievement. While there’s nothing wrong with natural talent (who doesn’t want it), stories are not made out of millponds, we need challenges that require a gargantuan effort to overcome.

And our trusty underdog delivers.

2. Reverse psychology

When we back a ‘winner’ that gives us the same euphoric winning feeling. So, while the underdog by definition is the least likely to win, we have been conditioned by the stories we have read, watched and heard to expect the underdog to win.

3. Pleasure at others misfortune.

Yes, humans are sick bunnies. This is the whole reason why shows like ‘the office’ are so popular. We love watching other people fail from the comfort of our safe lounge chair. Evil hands are rubbed together as our hapless hero faces an uphill battle just to stay afloat.

4. Equality

You are all sighing in relief now! No, humans are not completely evil. While we love to wallow in the misfortune of others, there is a huge thrill when the underdog perseveres, overcomes their many misfortunes, and endures challenges along the way….as long as they succeed.

And in those few stories where they don’t succeed, we often feel cheated.

Life and society is full of ebbs and flows.

Great civilizations rise and fall, and the only thing that is certain in the uncertain nature of the world, is that nothing stays the same.

The top team will not remain the top team for ever.

Good and evil.

Power and poverty.

Every dog will have its day.

How we love to love the underdog.

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How to turn ideas into a story #amwriting #writing

As the saying goes, stories don’t just write themselves, which means that you, the writer, need to put some effort into the process if you want those wonderful ideas to become a book.

How do you turn ideas into a story?

And where do you start?

Firstly, you need to start is by writing. Some people talk about world building, or scene setting. Some people talk about characters. Some people start with a plan.

I say, ditch all of the above and just jump straight into writing.

Why?

Because until you jump in you don’t really know where your idea is going to take you. Whether it is a single scene or an epic ending, it doesn’t matter just write it down.

Some people get very fixated on where to start, as if you cannot begin unless you have a firm container in which to place the story.

Writing doesn’t need a container. It just needs a writer and an idea.

When a writer begins writing, something magic happens. They start thinking about what happens before the seed idea, and what happens after…and what happens much later…and what happens much earlier. And before you know it, a rough timeline of events is established.

None of this happens until you begin to write so don’t feel you need a plan, or a character profile, or a fully fleshed out world before you can begin. You will need all of these things, but not right now. Now is for fun, and for playing and testing your idea.

Some of these new ideas will become backstory that may be discarded later on.

Some of the ideas may not fit in with the overall story as you fill in the gaps, and you may discard them too.

Once you have enough ideas, or scenes, you can plan, and flesh out character profiles, and worlds, or locations if need be…but not until you have enough ideas to at least hint at a story.

Ideas do not always become a full story, so don’t feel bad if you try and then find it goes nowhere.

Keep thinking, keep generating and testing ideas. The more you practice writing and using your ideas, the more ideas will come. Eventually one of them will become a story, a real story, a full story.

And that’s when the real writing begins 🙂