Friday, 11 July 2014

Writing for Children - Tip 4

Can you recall the wonderful characters from your early reading days? Some of them will stay with you forever; others might fade a little over time, but come gloriously to life if something happens to remind you of an event, or a line of dialogue.

As a children’s author, you want to create characters your readers will remember as well-loved friends.

Tip 4 – Love Your Characters

You could have the most exciting story ideas, the most exotic locations, but if you don’t create living, breathing, believable heroes and villains to inhabit your fictional world, your readers won’t care enough to finish the book.

A multi-layered character, who is scared and incompetent, but eventually stumbles to victory, could be pitted against villains who may be rotten to the core, but still love their dogs or grannies.

No one is all good or all bad and children know this instinctively. They can spot a cardboard cut-out from page one, and often won’t read on to page two.

Tips to make your characters come to life:

  • Try to visualise every aspect of your characters, even those details that will never appear in your book. ‘See’ the way they walk and dress.
  • How something is said is an easy way of creating character traits. Read your dialogue out loud to make sure it’s authentic.
  • Children need heroes they can identify with. Give your good guys flaws and your baddies redeeming features.
  • If you can hate your bad guys, but still feel sorry for them, your readers will as well.
  • Try to understand why your villains act as they do.
  • Believe in the people you create. Feel what they feel, laugh with them, allow your heart to break when theirs does.
  • It’s a good idea to avoid long descriptions of how people look. Dropping bits in here and there allows the young reader to process the information.

Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

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