Wednesday, June 6, 2012

She's a Character

Ever said this about someone? He's a character, or She's a character. What do we mean when we say that? Maybe we mean that they are unique, or a little bit quirky. Maybe they are special, different, fresh. I want my characters in my books to be fresh and unique. Quirky is fun, too. In a picture book, that's a bit of challenge. We have to count our words religiously, and we can't waste a single one. How do we paint an interesting character using words sparingly. This question weighs on me today, as I work on my Christmas piece, The Innkeepers Daughter. This is a fresh approach to the Christmas Story. I like the way it is turning out, except for one thing. My character is a little flat. I need to flesh her out. I can't add many words, so I have to make my words meaningful. I've received several critiques on this piece, with interesting thoughts, but none of them really focused on my character development. I want my readers to identify with Leah. I want them to see through her eyes. I want them to love her. What can I do to make her more real? The best stories are often character-driven. Creating a meaningful character isn't easy. I'm gearing up for my favorite writer's conference, Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers,(WIFYR). One of the take-aways I'm hoping for this year is some great ideas on character development. In the meantime, what works for you, in your reading or your writing. What makes a character stand out? What makes you want to meet them? What pulls you into their story? I'd like to know? I need to know. I need to get back to Leah. She's a character, or she will be...before I'm through. Linda Garner


Rebecca J. Carlson said...

What are traits of characters I read and fall smack in love with?

They live a life I'd love to have.

They're in deep trouble on page one.

They're strongly motivated.

They have a unique, honest, believable voice that I can hear in my head.

They make me laugh.

Robin said...

Hi Linda, it's Robin from the MG WIFYR class. We'll miss you, but the Picture Book class will be great. I've heard really good things about it.

Real characters-flawed is a big one for me
so real I could have a conversation with them in my head.

Good luck with Leah (great name btw)