I found this video a few days ago, and let it play while I checked email, but I found myself listening rather than reading. It's a bit long at 32 minutes, but worth a look. Ira Glass talks about how to hold the listener's attention, and the power of story to make the reader feel what the main character feels.
Some highlights (and I've paraphrased):
Narrative itself is like a back door into a very deep place inside of us, a place where reason doesn’t necessarily hold sway.
When a story gets inside of us, it makes us less crazy.
Until you actually hear the story of how someone actually joined al-Quaeda, you have no idea what it’s like to be that person. Until that moment, you know nothing.
We’re bombarded by more narrative on a daily basis than ever before. Every song is a narrative, every ad, every TV show – all trying to get our attention, to pierce through the noise of the narrative. They’re all yelling, which gives them a shrillness, a falseness.
One of the rarest things is to encounter something in a story that makes you be able to imagine yourself as that person.When it happens, it’s rare, and you notice.