Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cheryl Carpinello--Believable Characters

Welcome, Cheryl, to Flowers and Thorns.

So nice to have you here today.
What a great post for Y/A authors.
Please take it away!
Creating Believable Characters for Your Middle Grade/YA Readers
by Cheryl Carpinello
As writers, we struggle each time we write to come up with characters that our readers will connect with. Characters that will keep our readers coming back for more. We can have the most exciting plot loaded with lots of action in the most exotic place, but if our readers do not form a connection with the characters, then they won’t finish the book. The exercises outlined here may help you make your characters believable.
First, determine the age group that will be reading the story. The most common breakdowns for middle grade and young adult readers are upper elementary or Middle Grade (9-13), Tweens (12-15), and Young Adult (15 +). Every time I do a writing workshop with elementary students, I ask them to decide who they want to read their story. Inevitably they say, “Everyone.” I use this vivid example to help them understand why they can’t write for everyone. If they want high school students to read their story, then they need to put in kissing. The groans are sufficient to get my point across. Writers cannot write for all ages if they want to create believable characters that readers can relate to. Each age group has its own distinct qualities which must be embedded in the characters.
Second, list qualities associated with the chosen group of readers. Consider their maturity as far as what they are able to do on their own and how developed their thinking skills are. Make use of an educator tool called Bloom’s Taxonomy. It gives a breakout of what children are capable of doing at different stages of their development.
Here is a brief breakdown of the 6 levels that make up Bloom’s Taxonomy. The first three levels must be attained before moving on to the higher levels. Level One is Knowledge. This is the most basic and concrete level of thinking. Young children need to actually see or touch an object. They have no concept of the abstract. Level Two is Comprehension. At this stage, children are able to compare different ideas/objects. Level Three is Application. This stage of thinking involves simple problem solving and making plans. Level Four is Analysis and the beginning of the higher thinking skills in a person’s development. Children begin simple analysis on their own around 5th/6th grade. They are able to identify motives and start to draw conclusions. Level Five is Synthesis. This involves rearranging one’s thinking to come up with a new or alternative solution. Level Six is Evaluation. At this highest level of thinking, one is able to form opinions based on a set criteria. These last two steps take considerable development, and some high school seniors struggle with this.
Third, take into account the immediate world(s) of the readers as these can vary greatly based on economic, social, and even political situations. See how the different age groups handle relationships with the same sex and the opposite sex. Don’t forget think about their dependency on parents and their sophistication of language usage.
       Award-Winning Author
"Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend" 2011 Global E-book Finalist

"The King's Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table)" 2012 CLC Silver Award for YA Fiction; 2012 USA Best Book Awards Finalist for E-Book Children's Fiction
 Colorado author Cheryl Carpinello taught high school English for many years and has retired twice. She enjoys working with the kids so much that she tends to forget all the extra hours her job requires to plan and grade papers. Her book Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend was a Finalist in the 2011 Global eBook Awards for Pre-Teen Fiction. The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) was the 2012 Silver Award Recipient for YA Fiction from Children’s Literary Classics and also earned the CLC’s Seal of Approval for Recommended Reading. The King’s Ransom was also named a Finalist in E-Book Children’s Fiction from USA 2012 Best Book Awards.
World of Ink 2013 Tour: Some Stories become Legend, and Some Legends become Stories.
MuseItUp Publishing Author Page:
 Cheryl Carpinello
I'm impressed Cheryl, by your list of credits and your awards.
I'm also impressed by your books and your post.
We'd love to hear your comments. In fact, we love comments.





  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Lorrie. Learning about Bloom's Taxonomy can be an eye-opener for non-educators.

  2. It's a pleasure to have you here, Cheryl.

  3. Interesting article. Very informative.
    Chris Karlsen

  4. Nice article. Nice reminder on how important it is to keep our readers in mind.

    1. Kay, thanks for stopping by. Cheryl

    2. Thank you for contributing this interesting article, Cheryl. Is there an online website for Bloom's taxonomy, giving more information about it and, perhaps, examples using published books?

    3. Hi Maggie, If you google Bloom's Taxonomy, you will come up with a number of sites. I would pick any of the sites marked .edu. Bloom's is big in the area of instruction, and colleges/universities will give you the best information. Not sure about the examples for books. As a teacher, I naturally apply my knowledge of Bloom's and working with kids to my writing. I just did a quick search on Amazon and came up with this: Hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by! Cheryl

  5. Lost my comment (grr!). Anyway, great breakdown, Cheryl. I tend to write to high-end readers and the adult fans of YA fantasy.

    1. Marva, thanks for stopping by. I always wonder where those comments go! Cheryl