Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 5, 2017

How to Create Memorable Characters in Picture Books, Part 5

Memorable characters are those that seem real to the reader. Try these tips to bring out the “real” in your characters.

            Give specific details in a character’s development. Maybe he loves pancakes and wants  
pancakes every meal or she wants to wear only polka dots.

What are the character’s physical attributes? A character can be unusually built: extremely tall or short for the age group. How can these traits benefit or hinder the character? In many picture books these are depicted in the illustrations. But if the physical traits impact the problem the character is facing, they should be revealed in the text.

Verbal traits also distinguish the characters. A lisp due to missing front teeth works for a young child. Some kids use catch phrases. Listen to kids talking. “Awesome,” “like,” and “very” are words frequently used.
A character’s special interests should mirror those of the audience at a particular age. Does the character love to ride a bicycle or swim? The little boy in FORTY WINKS loved to read a book that he thought was magical. When the monster living in the closet would not share the book, the boy faced a dilemma: confront the monster or never read the book. What did it take to make the character react the way he did? Motivation + emotions = reactions. Figure out what motivates the character, add a dose of emotions, and let the story evolve.
I am never concerned if my book is more appropriate for a boy or a girl. My preference is to allow the reader to decide what s/he wants to read.
Next week, I’ll discuss more ways of creating memorable characters.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Young Writers Magazine. We actively seek the work of extremely talented teenage writers. Browse the site and see for yourself. 

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Ashland Creek Press is currently accepting submissions of book-length fiction and nonfiction on the themes of the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife — above all, we’re looking for exceptional, well-written, engaging stories.
We are open to many genres (young adult, mystery, literary fiction) as long as the stories are relevant to the themes listed above.
Submission guidelines at

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at



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