Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. In this post, we tell you what you need to know about creating characters for children’s books.
A Brief Introduction
Remember that characters drive plots. It’s important that other children like and empathise with the characters you create. They have to care about what happens next because of them.
Your readers want to know how they will handle difficult situations. They have to understand them and their personality traits, both the negative and the positive. As writers we have to get our readers to empathise with our creations and to care if they succeed or fail. If the main characters do not seem real in our imaginations, or in the settings we choose, children will lose interest in them.
Too many characters confuse young readers. As children’s books become longer and your audience older, there is room for more characters and more in-depth character development.
Four Things To Remember
- You do not have to describe characters in picture books. Characters are shown in illustrations. You can’t afford to include descriptions with a limited word count. Try to include only what is necessary for the story to make sense.
- The reader needs to think of your characters as real people. Take interesting bits and pieces from people you know, mix them up, and create characters who are unique.
- Characters act and speak. Actions show personality. What they do and how they react depends on their background, their experiences and their personality type. The best characters act consistently.
- Every character needs a reason to feature in your book. What do your characters want? What motivates them? Why do they want it? Young readers must be able to relate to your characters.
Seven Types Of Characters In Children’s Books
- Child Or Teenage Protagonists
- Adult Protagonists
- Animal Protagonists
- Supernatural Or Fantasy Protagonists
- Other Child And Teenage Characters
- Parents And Other Adults
- Younger Characters
First time writers often create characters who are too similar to one another. To avoid this, create differences. Throw unlikely personalities together. This lets you explore emotions based on unfamiliarity, fear, irritation, envy, rivalry, and mistrust.
List Your Characters
Make a list of all the characters in your book.
Tip: Having too many characters in a group always weakens the story. If you have too many characters with the same personality type, you don’t need all of them.
If they are too similar, change the characters enough to make them distinct from each other.
How To Make Your Characters Act
Emotions move your characters and your plot forward. Try to create situations that create these emotional reactions.
If children have to confront a threat, they must have reasons for acting as they do. To make them more believable, show the world through their perspective.