In honor of the little guy that made me an aunt, I want to talk about characters. As a crucial part of storytelling, creating well-rounded characters is one of the first parts of writing. A story is only as interesting as the character makes it.
My nephew is a wonderful example for character because of a number of reasons. First of all, he’s real, this is the part that is well-rounded. Meaning that while he loves and trusts all of his extended family, he does have his favorite. 😉
His interests include the regular little boy things. Such as playing with cars, riding his bike, hiking, and trying to be just like his daddy. But he also enjoys cuddling, picking out letters, and pretending to read. The specific, unique details are what make a character real. Like the way my nephew plays ‘doll family’ with almost any kind of toy, trucks and blocks alike.
All stories have conflict, and the greatest (in my opinion) are the ones that are strongly rooted in the character. Inner conflict in a character can be an attitude or just two parts of their personality that effects how they respond to the world around them.
My nephew’s contrasting personality is an example of this, with a strong, type 3 personality, he knows how things should go and he is sure to tell you what’s what. But his sweet, tender heart is completely vulnerable to a stern word or look. The tenderness of his heart allows him to love do his very best to help those around him, but he is very insistent on what he believes.
The key to having a liked character, is having them understandable. With young kids it is easy to see their brains working and figure out how they reach their conclusions. As an aunt, I know my nephew enough to understand his way of doing things. Kids are lovable because you can relate to them, their needs, and their feelings.
Make your characters relatable in how they think, feel, or what they have experienced. Even villains should have some quality or experience that allows a reader to understand them. Use these three principles in the creation of your next character, unique details, conflict, and relatability. Good luck, and share what you create!