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Ender's Game.jpg When it comes to my all-time favorite fictional character it will always and forever be Andrew Wiggins, better known as Ender. I have loved fictional stories ever since I could read. I especially love fantasy and sci-fi. However, I had never really connected with a main character very deeply in a novel until I read Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, when I was in the latter part of Junior High school. I have since read that story multiple times and my 14-year-old self connects just as deeply every time. Every author’s dream, right, to have their stories cherished for decades?

But why did I completely fall in love with this particular character? I was a teenage girl who secretly dreamed of becoming a princess one day, while Ender was a 6-year-old savant, battling in space. Well, the answer’s simple. I felt like Ender from page one. He was bullied because he was a Third, he was small and weak, and felt like no one wanted or liked him, with the one exception of his angel sister, Valentine. But then, as the story progressed, he had to overcome his obstacles in super creative ways, conquer his bullies and eventually he became someone the other kids looked up to and followed.

I wanted to do what Ender could do. But other than seeing myself in Ender, I couldn’t really tell you why I loved him so much. At least that was the case until I decided to become a writer and learned all the intricacies of novel writing.

It’s one thing to conceive of a particular character for a story and to see them in your mind, but to translate the images in your head to words on a page can be a very difficult thing. Orson Scott Card had to not only see who Ender was in his imagination, but he also had to write him in a way that would create sympathy from a reader. He had to make you care about Ender and what happened to him. He had to create scenes and moments in the novel that would show Ender’s personality, his ability, his vulnerabilities and fears. You learned about Ender little by little as the story unfolded, but in a way that created sympathy, mystery and kept you intrigued about what Ender would do next, and how he would react. Essentially, the author created a very appealing, but also realistic character arc; the protagonist starts out in a place of weakness, but then becomes the humble hero by the end—which is just one example of a character arc.

We all connect with different characters for different reasons, but that is the very goal of all good authors. They need readers to care about their characters in order to sell their books. I can’t tell you how many books I have literally stopped reading within just a few chapters because the MCs have zero likeable or sympathetic qualities. I simply did not care what happened to them and the story was no longer interesting.

So, how do you get your writing to a place that you can create these deep connections between your characters and your readers? I’ll let my top picks for the week explain:

#1: Love me, love my characters

This article is about the good and bad character traits generally present in romance novels, but it can be applied to other genres too, especially if you have an a**hole character that you’re including in your story.

#2: The Bedrock of Character Development

This is an interesting take on how to develop a character. If you’ve struggled with rounding out your MCs, or can’t seem to get past surface details about them then you may want to try a new approach.

#3: Use Writing Prompts to Dig into Character Development

While this title is a bit misleading, as there is only one writing prompt that they actually give an example of, I still find this helpful. Using this technique may be just what you need to dive deeper into your character’s head than you were able to before.

#4: Creating Complex Characters: A ‘Mass Effect 2’ Case Study

This is a super in-depth article that focuses on the RPG Mass Effect 2—something I’d never heard of until running across this article—and the complexities of those particular characters. It is a pretty lengthy read though, so I recommend viewing it when you have some extra time on your hands.

#5: For the Love of Moira – The Arc of a Memorable Character

This is the perfect example of a character and their evolution. Character arc is so very important to your story and this article demonstrates how that can be executed correctly.

 

Happy week and happy writing to you all,

Until next time,

Kara

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