by Bryan Patrick Avery
Last week, we started exploring ways to help readers bond with your characters, which in turn helps readers stick with books all the way through to the end. If a reader cares about a character, then she will care about what happens to them (the plot). This week, we’ll look at two more books with interesting characters readers care about. First up, a robot marooned on an island.
In “Wild Robot”, written by Peter Brown, Roz is a robot who opens her eyes for the first time and discovers she is all alone on an island. She’s been programmed to serve humans, but with no one to serve, what will she do? She learns very quickly, through encounters with the local wildlife (bears) and with Mother Nature (a horrendous storm), that she must first learn how to survive. To do this, she realizes, she must learn from the creatures who’ve already learned to survive on the island. There’s only one problem: the local creatures think she’s dangerous.
What makes Roz appealing is simple. Her journey of discovery, not just of where she is but who is, is one every reader can relate to. Whether it’s finding your place on a deserted island or in a crowded middle school, the challenges, emotions, and concerns are the same. Over time, as Roz begins to build relationships with her island-mates, readers can even identify with the joys of making new friends and accomplishing tasks that once seemed impossible. In Roz, Peter Brown created a character who, though truly unique, is just like each of us. If you want to create a character that resonates with readers, Roz’s example is a great one to follow: connect your readers to your characters through shared emotions. Your readers will thank you.
Is it possible for your readers to connect to a character who lived more than a century ago? For T.R. Simon, author of the Edgar Award nominated “Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground”, the answer is a resounding yes. A fictionalized account of the childhood of Zora Neale Hurston, the book follows Zora and her friend Carrie as they attempt to unravel a mystery in America’s first incorporated black township.
The story begins late one night when Zora and Carrie sneak out of the house after hearing horses in distress. Soon, the girls stumble upon Mr. Polk, who has been attacked and is badly injured. What follows next leaves Zora determined to investigate and nobody, not Carrie, not the town’s hoodoo lady, not even Zora parents, will be able to stop her.
That, in fact, is a large part of Zora’s appeal. Her determination to do what she thinks is best, even with all of the adults in her life telling her no, is every reader’s fantasy. Her bravery, wit, and intelligence make her the type of person many of us would love to be. It’s no surprise, then, that readers will stick with her through thick and thin. We’re rooting for her because, if she can do it, we feel that maybe we can too. Just as a reader can connect with a character because the character is like them, a reader will connect with a character with qualities the reader would like to have. Perhaps that’s why adventure stories, and the characters they feature, have always been so popular.
Well, that’s all for now. Happy writing and have a magical month.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.