020: Five Tips for a Great Main Character

Five Tips for a Great Main Character

Making Your Main Character Matter

October 7, 2016

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Angela asks:

Who do you feel chooses the book most often based on the cover: child, or the parent buying the book?

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What makes a memorable main character? Well, for a character to carry a series of books, you’ll need to make the person memorable. Although the “every kid” type will offer instant ability for readers to connect, it won’t be enough––the character needs specific, unique traits or abilities to linger in the mind of the reader. The unique trait might be learning disability (Joey Pigza in the Joey Pigza series by Jack Gantos has ADD) or unusual ability (Cam Janson has a photographic memory) or speech patterns (Junie B. Jones speaks like a real kindergartener, which makes some people nuts, but she does sound like a five-year-old) ––but the character needs something to stand out from the pack.

1. Make the main character matter emotionally.

That doesn’t mean the MC must be a paragon of virtue (in fact, no one like’s perfect people since they don’t read “real” and they’re kind of obnoxious), but you must give the character something we can connect with so that their fate matters to us. It’s the weakness in a character (and the character’s voice) that makes him/her linger in our minds.

For four more tips creating a great main character, listen to this episode of Writing for Children.

Click here to download the show notes with extra resources!

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