Creating Characters For Your Books
Stop trying to write sentences and start trying to write stories.I’ve had a few days to ponder and work on this, now that all the information about my Underlings idea in a single 400 page notebook and portable (see sidebar for what I use). I’m talking about the main character of this trilogy (though this idea is blooming into more than three books). This story is geared for a younger audience than I’ve written to before—with the exception of the comic books. There’s a bit of an advantage, though. I have younger children, like my son Simon to go to when I get stuck or have questions that need answering. Whenever I need to, it’s as simple as sitting back and watching him throughout the days and weeks. If ideas are scarce, I can listen to his interactions with his siblings—observe them, one with another, to model Feä, the main character. But that’s the trick—modeling the main character after a child, so the readers (other children) will be able to relate. I want them to feel drawn to the story, to identify and get sucked into the same types of mentality, situations, internal challenges and questions that a 7 year old experiences in their own lives. Well, with a twist.
I don’t want readers to experience a similar life as in the day to day humdrum, only insomuch as being able to connect with Feä. The rest of the story will be weaved in magic, exploration, comical situation, resolutions and of course...the wonder of the Wanted Hero world. But how do you create such a character? That’s what I’m working on now. In writing, I try to concentrate on a few key points of a main character:
Can the readers relate to him/her?What is the age of my protagonist? I always try to keep the character as close to the reading age as possible, or a tad older. Enough to look up to. Kids seem fixated on wanting to be older than they are, so we provide a way to live out that desire. I also look for common traits that readers will have, such as speech patterns, curiosities and fascinations. Feä is discouraged about his position in the family and looks to his two older brothers as icons of what a male should be. But they consider him to be the ‘baby.’ Feä is determined to prove them wrong.
Next, what can I include to make sure readers will enjoy experiencing Feä?His questions, determination and curiosity will allow me to lead him about and thrust him into situations. This is a very good thing and keeps the story wide open.
Next I focus on humor.Though humor is a hot spot for kids, I like to make it a norm only because I love to make people laugh. So this can be done either by internal or external aspects of Feä’s personality and circumstances. He’s a clever child with an over-developed sense of male ego that’s far too big for him...which means trouble. Teaching Feä about humility will be quite a ride, which brings us to the last point:
GROWTH.This is a must in my books. Showing character development as they have experiences feeds an inner need within a reader for progress. I can only speak for myself, but a book without growth in the characters feels empty and void of value. I want to avoid that, by weaving in some good lessons without disturbing the entertainment value of the whole adventure. There you have it. Now, there’s a lot more to character development—things like relationships, purpose, goals, fears and more...but you’ll have to determine those for yourself. I suggest looking into Advanced Worldbuilding for a complete list and system on development. I’m off to list and develop the first round of support characters...
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