When we write for children, we must create characters that engage young readers immediately. Let’s examine the personalities of a few famous characters that have captured many hearts.
Remember Pippi Longstocking in the The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking? (She’s really Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking.) Pippi’s appeal is that she’s a nine-year-old rebel and eccentric who has great physical strength and befriends the weak. How about Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)? She loves life and is an incurable optimist, talker and dreamer, whose determined nature draws trouble. And take a look at Huckleberry Finn (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). In author Mark Twain’s own words, the story tells how “a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision, and conscience suffers defeat.” Huck, the daredevil, has a big heart and is introspective enough to examine his ideas about people and change for the better.
Did you notice that I didn’t mention how any of these characters look? Although Pippi’s looks are unusual, her appearance is not what makes her memorable. It’s her personality, her moral fiber and her quirks that cause readers to love her. So keep these strong personalities in mind as you think up main characters, and here are some questions to help you put some flesh on their bones.
• Who or what does the character love?
• What does the character fear the most?
• What worries the character?
• What does the character wish would happen?
• What does he or she daydream about?
• How does the character move, sit, or run?
• What does he or she do when nervous, excited, or scared?
• What are three things the character likes to do?
• What are two personality traits?
• What are two strengths and two weaknesses?
• How is the character going to change or grow after dealing with the conflict in the story? (Is he going to feel more confident? Is she going to learn something about family or friends?)
You can find more about creating characters in our workbook, Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks. If you have questions or ideas about characterizaton, please drop us note.