Thursday, March 3, 2011

WHAT’S WRONG WITH A “NOT SO PERFECT” CHARACTER?


It seems as though every time I write a story for children where I have a “not so fuzzy” character, I get mixed critiques. Some tell me they really enjoyed the character, but a lot of mother’s with small children tend to tell me they don’t want their child reading anything negative. However, isn’t life full of weird, quirky characters?

One character I invented was a Hippo who was very self-involved. She loved herself and thought she was the best singer ever. One of my friends told me she thought the Hippo sounded too mean. But really, the Hippo was not mean at all, she was just stuck on herself, which was the whole point of the story. I wanted the Hippo to discover that it took the whole team to make the choir great, not just her.

Anyway, how do we make characters interesting and bring out their personalities if they all have to be perfect? And I don’t see those stories selling.

All the research out there is very conflicting and confusing as well. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll keep myself sane with all the wishy washy information I read. One article will say that publishers don’t want anymore rhyming stories, whereas the next article will say not to pay attention to that because rhyming stories, if good, will always sell. And I really do believe that.

I was just wondering if other writers were feeling the same way. And if so, how do you keep all the information out there intact? How do you know what to believe and what not to believe?

But my most important question is: As a mother, what kind of characters would you like to see your child reading about?


8 comments:

  1. The point of using a character like the Hippo is to point out that people can be imperfect, such as this self-absorbed singer. But that they can learn lessons that make them better.

    Why do you think the TV series Glee is so popular! The main character is always learning that lesson. She's a terrific singer, but she cannot do it alone.

    I want my kid to see that!

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  2. I agree with you Allyn. Let's face it, there are real live villans in the world. We can pretend to our children that the world is full of sunshine and roses, but then once they get out into that world they are lost and floundering as they were not prepared for the mean, the jealous, the freak-o. No I dont want it in my 2 year olds face, but pretending it doesn't exist is just as wrong. The world is out there....its scary. I say go for the real charaters. Give me the fun, the goofy, the not quite right, the jealous, and the down right mean. Then I can discuss it with my children and what to do when faced with it. Good post Allyn.

    ctny

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  3. Allyn, this made me think of Jetta from the Clifford television show. Yes, I know it's technical a tv show, but it's based on books. Jetta is very self-absorbed, but she learns a lot over the course of the show. I like seeing characters like her because they do teach kids lessons. I think there is a definite place for these characters in children's stories. My daughter can tell when a character isn't behaving well. She points it out, and that's great.

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  4. I agree that children need to be exposed to different types of people with different types of personalities. Isn't it wonderful that we can read a book with a 4 year-old and talk about the characters and their actions...the pros and the cons. Thank heavens for authors who write wonderful stories with a diversity of characters and social situations!!! Those parents who want to shield their children from the world have that choice...at least for awhile.

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  5. I am a dad whose had read lots of books with his kids. From my observations my children like books that have main characters that are heroic, successful, happy, smart, etc. However, minor characters or conflicting characters often have less desirable traits which can make the book fun.

    This allows a story to be fun to read and listen to, but allows a parent to talk with their children about different behaviors and personalities.

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  7. Hi,
    I found you on the BB and am now your newest follower. I feel the best thing to do is write what comes from your heart. You are always going to have people that don't agree with something. You can't please everyone so let them say what they wish and keep writing. When it comes to your blog as you asked on book blogs at least it brings them in to leave comments and traffic to your blog which is what you want. I just posted a view on my blog about Disney and not liking it. I had one man leave a long post about how angry he was with somethings I said and he did not agree with. I posted his comment and left my own. As long as they don't curse or call me names I let it go and post it. AT the same time my blog was hopping with people coming in from all over to read this post. Everyone has their own opinion about things and we are blessed that we can post it without having to worry about having our heads chopped off. So go for it. When you get a chance stop over and visit my blog. Have a great day!
    http://autumnbluesreviews.blogspot.com/

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  8. Well thank you Autumn Blues! I'm now following you as well. Thanks for your honest opinion and you are so right. Everyone has their own opinion and thank god for that! The world would really be a boring place if we all felt the same about everything!

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