Tiff Liao: DW 2.6
Straight Through the Heart: How to Make Readers Fall in Love with Your Characters
Tiff Liao, senior editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, does so much more for her writers than just make sure they make it to pub day. “Character drives plot - not the other way around,” she tells us in DW 2.6. “If we don’t care about the character, we don’t care about what happens to them.” Tiff encourages her writers to develop characters that readers will fall in love with. “Your goal as a writer is to find the universal through your specific story.” Empathy does not mean that your reader should always love your character - your goal is to create a character that is interesting enough for your reader to engage with. “If we don’t care about the character, we don’t care about what happens to them.”
So: the question is how? How do you get your reader to fall in love? One, might seem initially obvious: building intrigue. Characters with the most intrigue are immediately interesting because they have conflict immediately built into who they are. In order to achieve this, Tiff asks herself three questions when opening a manuscript: Who is your character? What does your protagonist want? What does your protagonist need?
Readers are more likely to fall in love with characters who have dimension -- real, living, breathing characteristics, instead of flat personalities on the page. Tiff advises adding: quirks, flaws (humanizing qualities to make them more relatable), charm and talents. She advises to stay consistent, as your reader must believe it is all encompassed under one persona.
This Thursday, please join us in a special free webinar we are opening up to both non-SCBWI members and members - Sticks and Stones and The Stories We Tell: Children’s Book Creators and Random Acts of Racism.
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