Long after the storyline has been forgotten, a memorable and well-drawn hero will stay in a child’s mind. The hero needn’t actually possess any heroic qualities as such, just so long as he is seen to be the winner at the end of the book.
In Vlad the Inhaler, Vlad starts out with so many things against him, it’s no wonder he struggles. However, he is the hero of the book, so has to win despite his obvious disadvantages.
Tip 10 – Creating Memorable Heroes
Even the wimpiest character will be well loved by young readers if he finds a way to overcome the bullying tactics of an older and aggressive child.
To be believable, your protagonist has to be a mixture of both good and bad. It must be someone with whom young readers can identify.
If human, the hero of your book should be slightly older than the targeted age group you are writing for. But, of course, heroes don’t have to be human. Animals, aliens from space, fantasy creatures, giant insects, and even ghosts, have all been the heroes and heroines of children’s novels.
Regardless of what type of creature you have cast as protagonist, for your readers to empathise, you will need to make him, her, or it, a memorable creation. Any character which isn’t well rounded, with flaws as well as qualities, isn’t going to reach out and touch the hearts of your audience.
- Try giving your hero an irritating character trait, which is nevertheless loveable, such as being incredibly clumsy
- Have them striving for something which is almost unattainable, but which they achieve in spite of messing up every step of the way
- Put them in situations where they have to surmount obstacles and have their own character flaws working against them, such as an anti-social child wanting to fit in at school
- Try making your character a know-it-all who is kind at heart
- Round out your characters by having them see themselves as weak, or inferior in some way, but fighting to overcome their insecurities to save the day
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