Sunday, September 21, 2014

Reasons for Requesting: Character Interests

So you've got this concept, right? And an idea of what kind of character you need at the helm. You've developed their personality and dialogue and fears, so you've got a pretty well developed character on your hands. But there is a vital ingredient that your character will be lost without: Interests.

Yes interests. We all have them. Our hobbies and activities that make our hearts sing. And, especially for YA and Middle Grade, these things are important. I mean all of us were probably in some kind of club at one point or another. Band, theater, sports, art, underwater basket weaving... there are lots of things out there to be interested in.

But many times when I read an MS the character doesn't seem to... like anything. They make a big deal over the things they hate and don't get but not what they love. I think often times that's a trap authors fall into, especially in fantasy. They make the character's life flat and boring until the adventure starts and THEN the MC's life begins. But it feels cheap. Like the character has existed in a bubble until the story comes along.

How do you solve this? Give your MC goals and interests. Give them a path in life that they would have gone on if not for their adventures. And for bonus points, work their talents and interest somewhere into the plot. If they are adept at underwater basket weaving, maybe add a scene where the only way to beat the villain is to weave a basket-like prison underwater. Obviously an exaggeration, but it makes the character feel more real and three dimensional.

Ron was good at chess. It came in handy. Hermione was good at all of her classes and that comes in handy. In an MS I read recently, the MC used her talents and passions to solve the situation. Give them interests and make them count and its a good way to earn a request.

Bonus tip: if the only thing the character is ever passionate about is the love interest, you're doing something wrong. The character's whole life is not tied to the love interest. Even though 'interest' is in the title, it doesn't count as one. I have read books where that has happened.

That's all for today. Have a great week everyone!

2 comments:

  1. Great post! This helped me analyze the character in my current WIP--I'm happy to report that she did have a goal that she was diverted from (though that does kind of suck for her).Thanks so much!

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  2. Good advice! My MC has an interest in photography, which is turning out to be fun for me to write (how photography would be approached differently by a teen than my own photographs)

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