By VS Grenier
A writer uses the world around them to see potential characters. They can be walking to school, shopping in the mall, riding a bike or skating down the street. Some writers use people from their memories—the child they once were, friends from childhood, current friends, family members and so on. A good writer takes and uses traits from these potential characters to make their story life like.
For me, I start with the physical traits. I need to know how my character looks to understand how they feel, act, or see themselves in their own flesh. For example, let’s say I am writing a young adult book. My main character is going to be a girl. I want character to be someone who blends into the crowd. I decide to use a person from my past. I close my eyes, I see the person and here is what I come up with:
She has straight blonde shoulder length hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her eyes are small, close together and dark midnight blue, with dark brown eyebrows perfectly plucked. She’s average height and a bit wide in the hips. Her lips are a bit dry and she wears braces with purple rubber bands. Three earrings are in her left ear with two in the right. She has on a t-shirt with ¾ length sleeves (Ringer style), jeans with the hem slightly frayed, plain white tennis shoes and ankle socks.
From this description, you may think this person is a tomboy and maybe even a loner. The person I used was . . . me! I was an average student, kept to myself outside of school, was in the drama club, and yes, I was a big tomboy.
Now I have a round, plump, fleshy character I need to give her a name. Picking a name can be one of the hardest things for any writer. I tend to look at names in a stereotypical way.
For example: My name happens to be Virginia Ann, which sounds very southern, but I was born and raised in California. This is something you need to keep in mind when naming your characters. Parents cannot see who their children are going to be or what their personalities are. But a writer can with their characters! This means picking a name is very important. Okay, back to my character. I feel she needs a boyish name. Something like Sam, which is short for Samantha.
Now it’s time to make my character real in my reader’s mind. I do this by interviewing my character. Writers do this so they can understand why their characters act, feel and do the things they will do in the story. I like to ask my characters any question from what their favorite color is to the most embarrassing moment in their life. After I interview my characters, I then put them in situations with each other. This could be a scene I end up using in my story, but mostly it’s just an exercise to see how the characters relate to each other. Then I take each character and put them in a scene with a stranger. This gives me a better idea of how they talk, act and feel about different environments.
As a writer develops each character, we begin to trust them to let us know how they feel about situations and use their dialogue, thoughts and actions to express their feelings in the story. As a character becomes more real in my mind, they become real in my reader’s mind. Making my character a “real person” when in my story.
About the author ~
VS Grenier is an award-winning children’s author, founder & owner of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC., award-winning editor-in-chief of Stories for Children Magazine and chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int.; in addition, to running her own editorial and critique services.
In 2007 & 2008, VS Grenier was voted one of the Top Ten Editors in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll, won 2nd place for her article on, “Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2007, and won 7th place for her article, “Dinosaur Tracks in My Backyard” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2008.
VS Grenier learned how to hone her writing skills at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of the League of Utah Writers (HWG), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Musing Our Children.
Her works include: Babysitting SugarPaw, the Best of Stories for Children Magazine Volume 1 anthology, and over 30 short stories, articles and crafts for children along with newsletter articles for writers.
“Having others read what you have written and giving feedback not only makes you a better writer, but you start to understand how a well written story’s voice captures the reader, drawing them into your world of ink,” states VS Grenier.
A California girl at heart, she currently lives in Southren Utah with her supportive husband, their three children, and the family’s big fat cat Speed Bump and miniature schnauzer Taz.
Visit VS on her website
Visit her company website - Stories for Children
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Contact the author
The book ~
A little bear named SugarPaw hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskers, by getting her into trouble after making changes to his rules chart. As this fun loving story unfolds, SugarPaw learns about honesty and friendship.
This book will delight three-to-eight-year-old readers, especially those who like to create mischief.
An excerpt ~
Bonnie Whiskers never babysat for the Bears before. Hearing SugarPaw cry out, “Don’t go!” made her worry. She took a deep breath and knocked on the door.