While doing research, I often come across authors offering the best insights. So, I’ve decided to add this element to my blog. Come be inspired with me…!
Jody Hedlund writes outside of my preferred genres, so I’ve only read one of her books. However, what she does with her characters, and what she suggests so succinctly here, is what keeps me up with a book until 5:30am…
Making readers love our characters.
But how? That was my question tonight, as I pondered my 2nd Rewrite Plans. I’ve decided to change an early character from acerbic to absolutely lovable…then kill her. So, I asked myself…what are the quickest ways to make my readers adore this character, so her death will actually matter?
After browsing about a dozen websites that gave the same basic advice on character development, I stumbled across Jody’s website and I LOVE how she covers this subject! Here are the notes I took for myself (which include my own thoughts and will be printed and pinned onto the wall above my laptop during this revision)…and at the bottom is Jody’s website information, where you can view “the source!” Thank you, Jody!
3 Key Ways to Develop Reader Empathy
for our Main Characters EARLY in our books…
Have them care about someone else!
(Katniss —-> Prim)
(Bella —-> Her Mother)
(Menolly —-> Petiron)
(Frodo —-> Bilbo)
Have them do something heroic!
Katniss sacrifices her life for Prim,
Bella sacrifices her happiness in Arizona for her Mother,
Menolly takes on a man’s job under extreme family pressure,
and Frodo gives up The Shire to take The Ring into The Wilds…
Bring out their strengths – to offset their weaknesses!
In fact, strengthen both. A believable character who does great things has to also have serious flaws. Katniss, for example, does great things but she also totally doesn’t deserve Peeta and she’s frequently crippled by her social skill limitations. The Flaws make the character relatable – freeing us up to have the character ALSO do amazing things that inspire us!
Jody Hedlund goes on to quote one of my favorite authors/agents,
Donald Maass from his book, “The Breakout Novel,” where he says…
“We read fiction not just to see ourselves but also to imagine ourselves as we might be . . . Characters in breakout fiction may seem realistic, even average, but they are bigger than their circumstances.”
My goal: Inspire My Readers
My hope: That we still have time to “turn this ship around.”
My tool: A novel, where my character will join others and do exactly this!
My belief: That with critical mass, we can save our future from our past and our present…
Jody Hedlund’s website and article,
3 Key Ways to Create Characters that Grip Readers’ Hearts
can be found here…
Don’t miss my previous authors! Archived here: www.voiceofvashon.org/prose-poetry-and-purpose