How to bring Z to life? How to make Z so engaging, so compelling, that the reader actually cares about what happens to her? Hmm…
Here are my top tips:
- think big, and I mean BIG. Before Z can be a compelling character on paper and in the reader’s mind, she needs to exist in your own. She’s the girl who just moved in next door, but do you really want to get to know her? Or would you walk right by her in the street without even really noticing her. What, a sixteen-year-old girl just walked by??? Oops, didn’t even see her there.
- pretend Z is a real person, with likes and dislikes, wants and needs. Some of these will be readily apparent right from the start, and others might just creep in and surprise you. Z’s phobia about turtles, for example. I mean, really, who’s scared of turtles! As your main character comes to life in your mind, that will influence the way you write about them on paper. Hard to avoid making them engaging really, when they’re so real to the writer!
- why does she insist on being called “Z” anyway? Share enough of her past to make her interesting. She’s named after Great-Aunt Zelda. She thinks the name “Z” fits well with her spunky attitude. “M” was already taken (*waves to James Bond fans*). We won’t know unless you tell us. Or even better, show us!
- what motivates Z? What is she after in life? Her first boyfriend. Her first kiss. Her first relationship with a vampire/werewolf/zombie/other paranormal creature. A real friend. Revenge. Acceptance. You name it, the reader will be able to better connect with your main character if they understand what motivates her.
- how does Z react to life’s challenges? Well, she certainly doesn’t passively accept the big pie in the face from the boy down the street. And she’ll have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the altar of social responsibility and upright teenager-ness. Sometimes she just wants to stand there and yell swear-words at the top of her lungs. However Z reacts, react she should. How else do we become invested in her life? How else do we want to know what will happen to her?
How about you: How do you make your characters engaging?