Imagine you are writing a story. Your intuition tells you this story has potential to appeal to many children. You realize that the main character (your protagonist) must grow during your tale. That doesn’t mean he or she his taller physically. It means your character has changed and learned something important during your book. Let’s explore some examples to illustrate my point. We’ll also discuss other things that will help your protagonist to be memorable
Does your main character struggle? One of the elements that’s essential in an engaging children’s story is conflict. Does your character have a problem to overcome? In my book, Tails of Sweetbrier, I wanted desperately to become an accomplished horseback rider, in spite of my handicap. There’s a great deal of conflict because I must work hard to overcome doubts, as well as the physical challenges. It wasn’t unusual for me to fall off my pony multiple times a day. I think that readers empathize with my plight because my thoughts and actions show how much I wanted to succeed.
- How does your character change his/her mental attitude? As I mentioned, your main character must adjust their thinking. That also happened in my book. I originally was upset that I worked extremely hard to succeed, and other kids were able to win so easily. Not only that, but they learned riding so much quicker that I did. Is this fair? Maybe not, but I grew as a person when I realized that it’s important to accept defeat graciously. Everyone has good and bad days, so once I discovered that bit of wisdom, future looked brighter.
- How do you decide what your problem will be? This will be determined by what you choose for your theme. What kind of lesson do you want your reader to remember after reading the story? Do you want to highlight bullying? If so, your character may need to learn that there are other ways to attract attention.
- What if mom, or grandma suggests a solution to the problem? This could work, but your character has to decide for himself or herself. That way, your readers will relate better to the person you’ve created.
- Is your protagonist likable? While you’re crafting your story, pay close attention to see if you like your character. If you’re not comfortable with his/her personality, change something. Your character also needs to be realistic. You don’t want someone who is too perfect. It would be difficult to relate to such a person because we all have our shortcomings.