A great character makes or breaks a book. Think about all the books you’ve read where you thought a character was closer than a best friend or you’ve joined them on the most amazing journey? Have you ever blushed when a character spilled pudding over themselves in front of the entire cafeteria? Or shook your fist at that evil enemy who wants to steal your character’s boyfriend?
As writers, it’s our job to make our characters believable yet unforgettable. There are so many ways we can do this but here are a couple that come to my mind especially thinking about that critical first chapter.
1. Make Your Protagonist Likeable- No one wants to spend an afternoon hanging out with someone you don’t like. Yet sometimes as writers we are so busy setting up our characters for growth (which is important) that we forget to make our readers intrigued and interested in the protagonist in those opening pages.
2. A Real Life Snapshot- Instead of presenting your reader with the standard description of: ‘Carey was a sophomore at Rollins High. She hated her limpy brown hair and how short she was’. Take Carey to the next level such as: ‘Carey squeezed her way to her locker, pulling a strand of her thin brown hair out of her eyes. A cheer broke out at the end of the hall. She raised up on tiptoes, hoping to glimpse what all the ruckus was about.’
3. Be My Hero/Heroine- So your protagonist will have flaws (all humans do) yet they need something more, something that perhaps we all wish we had. Make your protagonist want to overcome their physical abilities, strong enough to stand up to the bully, or put aside their fears and try out for the volleyball team. Whatever it is, give your reader a glimpse of this in the opening pages.
One of my personal favorite characters is Anne of Green Gables. She has spunk and determination to look at the bright side of life despite being an orphan and harshly treated most of her life.
How about you? Who is your favorite character and what makes them your hero/ heroine?