Puzzling Over Protagonists

Think of your favorite character from a book. What makes them a hero or someone to cheer on as you read?


I first enjoyed reading as a young and new mom when I discovered Christian-fiction author Lynn Austin’s books. She creates realistic and complex people whose dialogue hooks the reader.


How does she invent her characters? Does she map out who the person will be from the beginning? Or, does she start with a person in mind who unfolds as the story takes shape? I emailed her because I wanted to imitate her writing style. The answer she gave shows a little of both methods, including characters who end up surprising the writer.


When I open a puzzle box, I like to make the border, but my children want to hurry and add to it, filling in the picture. “Wait, we have to get all the edge pieces in,” I usually say, but the exciting, colorful pieces somehow find their way to the table. Hence, a mix of both ways builds our family’s puzzles.


And so, Lynn's answer leaves me with hope for putting together the aspects of interesting and well-written characters for fiction books. It sounds like something within reach; some trial and error, some twists and turns, and then a complete story.


Writing prompt: To help my children connect with a book, I sometimes ask them to write from the POV (point of view) of the main character. Re-telling what was heard or read in a chapter, and pretending to be that person draws them into experiencing the story. Along with describing what happened, adding emotion about how, they, as the main character, might think or feel, gives the writing assignment a unique element. It just may help your reader enjoy the creative part of writing.

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