Friday, July 10, 2009

More on characters

I write for children. This means that I need to learn what makes a child want to read. Is it the plot or the characters? Plot stimulates the growth of the characters. But characters are what bring kids to read the stories. Characters have to overcome certain challenges. The motivation of my characters drive the story. If all it took was a good story, then kids would watch a movie instead. The kids identify with the characters. It's magic. The author creates people that these kids either love or hate. And the characters remind them of kids that they know. The characters come to life in the pages of my books. They are real to me as I write about them. Then (hopefully)the reader grows to love them and wants to hold on to them. Characters think and feel. The reader wants to share in those thoughts and feelings.

Writers write books. Writers need to read books too. Read what you write and everything else in between. It gives a writer a feel for the way books are written. And characters don't have to say what they think. In life no one says everything they think. But the reader knows what the protagonist is thinking and loves being able to get into his/her mind.

One of the best books ever written is The Music of Dolphins By Karen Hesse. At the beginning of the book the first-person narrator is nonverbal. She must work to learn plain language, but her thoughts are expressed in the contrasting print.

Any thoughts on characters are greatly appreciated here. No matter what we write, we need characters. Thanks for reading. :)


  1. HA! Did you read my post? Great minds run together my friend.

  2. Great post and so very true! I'm going to do a post on characters today, too. Hmmm. Maybe I better go read Amy's first and make sure my topic hasn't already been talked about! :)

  3. I think, especially with kids, they have to be able to relate/connect with the characters.

    I think the fascinating thing J.K. Rowling did with Harry Potter was to make him relatable to all ages. That, my friend, is a might feat indeed.

    I will say that my main problem with some kids in fiction - I can't relate at all, they seem far too intelligent, saavy, and far too ficitional. There are things a 10 year old will say, and there are things a 10 year old won't say. Try reading George R. R. Martin - his kid characters just aren't believable, even with the time/setting/fantasy genre thingy going on. When I'm reading the chapters solely related to the younger set - I really, really, really have to suspend my disbelief because they just seem too intelligent, too capable, too confident, and too too too much.

    Just my thoughts. Now, off to Amy's blog and then BJ's to see their thoughts on characters . . .


  4. Amy-whoa! we're on the same wave length. Cool huh? I love what you wrote. Great post!:)

    BJ-getting in on the character action too? I'll head over to see what's on your mind. I know it'll be something great. :)

    Scott-I can't stand to read books with unbelievable kid characters in them. I haven't read him, but I'll head to the library the first of the week to stock up and I'll look for him.

    You're right about Rowling. That's a BIG reason why her books are so popular, besides the plot, the magic, etc.,etc.:)

  5. Characters make or break a story, I think. I was actually going to do a post on this too, in the future because like you've said, characterization is pivotal!
    I love to read too. I haven't read kid books in a long, long time, but I remember the ones that stuck with me, and it was because of the characters.

  6. Jessica, you're right. They can make or break a story. I want mine to make them! :)

  7. I'm not good in writing stories, I think. But I remember when I was a kid (or even today) I always look forward to what happens to the good ones. The hero, the poor little boy, the good girl, etc. I like it when the characters grow old with the readers, such as Harry Potter and the like.. :)


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