"Maybe the plot is the number one reason people keep reading, but characters essentially are what make them stay."
"Good characters make you fall in love with a story. Maybe the plot is the number one reason people keep reading, but characters essentially are what make them stay," according to blogger Tori (http://theweirdworder-awritersworld.blogspot.ca/2013/07/the-importance-of-characters.html). Picture books tend to have only a few, basic characters. Chapter books have room for more characters and more character development. Some chapter books are plot driven, like Harry Potter, while others are character driven, like Catcher in the Rye.
Characters create conflict and resolution in a story. You want characters to bring your plot to life. Start by giving your main character, or protagonist, a motivation or desire. Roz Morris recommends: "Make the character want something badly enough to step outside of his comfort zone," (https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/writers/advice/410/a-writers-toolkit/story-and-plot/). The character should keep working towards his goal, even when things go from bad to worse.
Get your readers emotionally involved with your characters. "Until the writer reveals the character's humanity, he's just a name on a page," explains Roz Morris. Reveal your character's history and relationships through his thoughts, feelings and actions. Is your character static, like a brilliant detective or a cruel stepmother? Or is he developping, a character who grows throughout the story? Ideally you want three dimensional characters rather than stereotypes.
Do you have a villain or antagonist in your book? An antagonist's interests oppose those of the protagonist. However, a villain "intends evil", has different moral rules and brushes with the dark side, according to Roz Morris.
Picture Books with Well-Developped Characters
1. Chrysanthemum (Kevin Henkes
2. Thomas' Snowsuit (Michael Martchenko)
3. Martha Speaks (Susan Medaugh)
4. The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg)
5. The Lemonade Club (Patricia Polacco)
6. Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson)
1. Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
2. Flat Stanley (Jeff Brown)
3. Amelia Bedelia (Peggy Parish)
4. Stuart Little (E. B. White)
5. Charlotte's Web (E. B. White)
6. Big Nate (Lincoln Peirce)