After seeing some pretty impressive reviews for the book Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole on Goodreads, I decided to pick up a copy from the library. But as I read the first few pages I realized that this wasn’t the type of book I would only read once. It’s the type of book you want to refer to again and again, folding over its pages and making sloppy notes in the margins. So I bought my own copy and I’m so glad I did. Especially after reading the chapter on Character.
In that chapter, Kole says that there are six things the reader needs to know about your protagonist. You’ll have to read the book to find out all six, but one of them is that the reader needs to understand your character’s worldview, how they think about life and what their overall attitude about it is. Your reader needs to get a grasp of this pretty quickly, too.
Also on the topic of character, Kole says that your protagonist has to go through a change. He or she has to grow somehow. If you didn’t make that change happen, go back and take a look at your plot. Maybe you were you too easy on your character. Throw in a moral dilemma and some turning points. That should do it.
Your secondary characters are there to help deepen our understanding of your main character’s identity. Those secondaries need to do three things: underscore something about your protagonist, provide contrast for it, or provide conflict with it. In short, your secondary characters are there for a reason. Make them count.
Writing Irresistible Kidlit is an excellent book on writing for anyone, not just authors of young adult fiction. I’d highly recommend picking it up, if only to hear about a ton of YA novels that you’ll definitely want to read, like Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which is at the top of my must-read list for 2014.