Maybe it's just me, but I love getting emotionally attached to characters.
I love it when I grip the book so hard my knuckles turn white (and then loosen the grip so the book doesn't get damaged.) and feeling myself get filled with anticipation-- and fear-- for the characters.
And nothing gets rid of that terrible feeling you get after a character you love dies. (at least I haven't found it yet.)
So why do I love it?
To me, it's incredible that a writer can make characters so real to me that I feel their pain. It's not that I feel their physical pain (though I can imagine it) it's that I can really sympathize with their emotional pain.
And emotions is where the key lies to getting characters and readers to connect-- to really connect. (at least I think it is, mind you, I'm still figuring out this writer thing too. :) )
What can you do to make your readers and characters connect? I'm glad you asked!
1. Give me a reason. Why should I care about your character?
Tragic past? Okay, I can sympathize but I need a little bit more...
2. Give them a good attitude. I just confessed (though it's no big secret) that I'm figuring out this writer thing, so I'll go ahead and confess something else too. I'm bad a making characters likable. At least sometimes. In the past I have written an entire novel with a character who was really terrible and unlikable. So. Save yourself trouble later and figure out something to give your characters a good attitude.
"Wait," you may be thinking, "How can I give them a reason to care and give them a good attitude? What if this Terrible Thing happened to you? Would YOU have a good attitude about it?" No, I probably wouldn't, but the good attitude doesn't mean 'always happy'.
Give them a bit of humor, or something where they sympathize with characters in the same boat as them, something-- anything-- that will make them more likable.
3. Make them human. Now you may think I'm going to go against what I just said, but I'm certainly going to try not too...
Sometimes in fiction (in nonfiction too, but I'm talking about fiction...) you have those characters that are so perfect and you're like, "trip down the stairs, sneeze in your boyfriends face, DO SOMETHING THAT ISN'T PERFECT!!!" To which they're reply (with a smile of course) "No one is perfect" and proceed to show you in the Bible.
Seriously, perfect character, just stop.
Give them some flaws.
One of my favorite characters that are mine is flawed. He is a tiny bit lazy, and speaks before his thinks, and comes off a bit harsh sometimes.
And you know what?
He's one of my favorites because he's not perfect.
Unless you have a character that you purposefully made perfect for whatever plot purpose... I'd recommend not doing it. (especially it is your main character.)
So there is a bit on characters... I'm sure I'll do more on this at some point, like I said before, I love characters. :)