This is going to be a difficult May for me. May equals Mother’s Day, and I just lost my mother. I’ve already given in to eating too much comfort food and slacking off on my writing. When I do write, sadness is creeping into my characters’ voices. That’s not always a bad thing. Writing what you know often means writing emotional experiences that you understand because you’ve been there. It makes for a more authentic voice. There is now a whole new job description out there called “sensitivity reader.” You pay him/her to read your manuscript to make sure your characters are authentic, and you’re not going to offend anyone by using stereotypical characterizations.
Here are some tips on building stronger characters:
Write up a profile of your character as if you were interviewing him/her. (Include: likes, dislikes, favorite songs, favorite color, favorite movie) While you’re conducting this imaginary interview, take note of how he/she dresses? Does she/he have any nervous habits?
Write down your character’s primary spoken goal and the secondary unspoken desire. That is, the motivation behind that goal. What event triggered the desire to achieve that goal? If there is no emotional motivation, your character will come across flat and his/her emotional arc may feel melodramatic instead of authentic.
So, I encourage you to write even when you’re hurting—especially because you’re hurting. It can be cathartic. If it doesn’t pertain to your current WIP, that’s okay. Set it aside. It may help you when writing another character someday. Write what you feel. That is what you know.
One of my challenges [as a writer] is to make sure that I’m giving the reader details that the character cares about rather than details that I care about. I’d say that’s the key to world-building.” –Jessica Andersen
Do your homework about the agent you’re submitting to. You don’t want to send a Middle Grade manuscript to someone who only represents Women’s Historical
Fiction. Check out this great resource: https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/
The Chaos Walking Trilogy
by Patrick Ness
Imagine you're the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don't fit in with their plans... Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run. Todd and his new friend Viola set out across the New World searching for answers about his colony's true past and seeking a way to warn the ship bringing hopeful settlers that it isn't safe.
Strong characters that are easy to love and cheer for. Great science fiction.
(Some violence and intense themes.)