How to Breathe Life into Your Characters
Okay, now we get down into whose “eyes” the story is told through. It should be the character with the most to lose. Is it Little Boy Blue hiding under the haystack? The Big Bad Wolf? Or Esmeralda? Sure, the villain has a lot at stake, but are readers going to identify with him/her? Or would they much rather fit into the shoes of the hero or heroine? The choice is going to be as varied and interesting as the author’s of the stories.
I would say that it also depends on who your reader is: young adult or adult? It is much easier to incorporate the baddie’s view in the adult novel. Teens want to embrace the characters they read about, not be repulsed, imo. That is why Katniss, Clary, and others are so beloved. They speak to a reader, they’re like old friends. You want to encourage that comfortably as much as possible. Give them something unique, quirkish for sure, but ultimately it’s their hearts that matter.
A good character, a strong-rooted one, will be followed by their fans through thick and thin. So what makes a hero/heroine? Is it their bravery? Their ability to function when the lights go out in a haunted house? Courage is a powerful motivator. What makes Jay Asher’s hero listen to the tapes of a classmate who killed herself? An inner need to know the truth, to go the distance, to know himself.
I think it is the journey, the obstacles thrown into our characters path, the quest to overcome them, to become a better person that keeps those pages turning. In real life, we may not always be the “star player” in our world, but in a book, we can soar to new heights, maybe even change a part of who we are, how we see things, when we finish it. A novel gives us hope that things might be different, that others understand and awaken courage within us. They explore all topics from depression, to suicide, cancer, and rape to name a few. Stories can teach us something at the same time they deliver “the goods.”
Can your book be written from multiple viewpoints? Yes. Often both the hero and heroine share in the telling. I, personally, prefer this method. It gives you a chance to explore events that happen when another character is off-screen. You can advance the story faster. Look at Maggie Steifvater’s linger series. The hero and heroine effectively play off the other’s last scene. Simon and Clary do this well also in the City of Bones series. Here, we have a slight variation on just who the “hero” is, Simon or Jace. But clearly, Simon has the “most” to lose.
So, when your exploring how to begin your novel, consider the viewpoint character/s. A rough coal can be chipped away at to display a diamond. Point-in-case, hush, hush’s fallen angel. A “good” guy can be hiding in our midst, a “shattered” heroine can learn to live again. And the Big Bad Wolf can be defeated.