I’m back! I haven’t blogged for a bit, but I’ve never stopped writing, working, creating, and moving. My 2024 goals include writing whenever possible, a new contracted book series from Mayo, and continuing my search for an agent who is equally passionate about bringing my books to the world. 

Last year, I was fortunate to work with Mighty Media and Mayo Clinic Press to publish a children’s series called Helping Paws Academy. [Click the link to check them out!] I’m now contracted for a second series called Edge of Medicine- written for children- to explore medical breakthroughs! I’ve completed at least four novels, many picture books, and articles. Life is good, and I’m keeping busy.

I wanted to discuss building great characters and use some of my favorites as examples. 

What Makes for a Good Character?

Using Louise Belcher as Our Guide


What Makes a Character “Good”?

In the first scenes of a story, elaborate settings and plot details spill onto the page, but what is one thing that makes a reader keep turning the page or watching their favorite show on TV? An interesting character. We want to know what will happen to them or if they will succeed.

Why would the readers keep reading if they don’t care about the protagonist? Is the dull, mean, unlikable guy in the first chapter about to be killed? Do I care? We’ll close the book and grab another if we’re not invested in the character.


As a reader, movie-lover, or fellow Netflix binger, you probably have your favorite books or shows you repeatedly return to. A character might pop into your head and make you smile just thinking of him/her/them. Before diving into my favorites, what makes a character “good?”

  1. Special skills – they have magical powers, can whittle a toothpick into a pig, can smell termites in the walls. Their skill makes them unique.
  2. Funny – their voice and humor force a smile and make you want to hear more.
  3. Sympathy – you feel sorry for the character’s situation and root for them to succeed.
  4. Relatable – that kid who was bullied just like you were in school, the anxious teenager petrified to give a speech.
  5. Quirky/Different – a little unusual and strange, but interesting. Being weird is interesting.

Become Your Character

Before writing as your character, you should know everything there is to know about them/her/him. You should be able to visualize their appearance, hear the tone or accent in their voice, know what they would/would not wear, and what poster might be hanging on their bedroom wall.

And then… get into your character’s head. Write about their average day in their diary – in their voice. Have your character write a letter to their teacher – or their father.

What’s their biggest fear? Their middle name? And how would they react to a zombie invasion – would they fight or hide?

My Favorite Characters

Now that we have the building blocks to write exciting characters – let’s figure out why they made the list!

Louise Belcher

If you’ve never seen the TV series Bob’s Burgers, you need to tune in if only to meet Louise Belcher. Why do I love her so much? She always wears her rabbit-ear hat which meets the definition of quirky. She is smart but also smart-mouthed with a sarcasm that can’t be beat. That might make her a little relatable?! She’s funny and I’d follow her antics anywhere.


 Scaredy Squirrel

An all-time favorite picture book by Melanie Watt – Scaredy Squirrel. For an anxious person with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) tendencies – he’s my soul mate. Throughout the story, Scaredy debates leaving his tree. The outside world is scary, and he’s safe if he stays put. He makes lists for everything and contemplates the worst-case scenario before acting. He’s relatable, we sympathize with his fear, he’s quirky, and in the end, he discovers a special skill. Only when he takes a chance does he discover he can fly. It brings back the famous quote: What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly? Sometimes, we need to take the plunge and leave the comfort of our tree. 

The Grinch

But he’s a bad guy? When writing a good story, even the villain needs to be a well-rounded character to make the villain believable and raise the story’s stakes. The Grinch is grumpy and hates Christmas. As if that’s not enough to make him evil, he steals Whoville’s Christmas presents and wants to end Christmas. But as we learn more about the Grinch, we learn his backstory. He has to have some redeemable qualities if his cute little dog stays by his side. He was bullied and had a sad childhood – so we develop sympathy for the villain. We cheer when his heart grows, and he discovers love from little Cindy Lou.




I could sit on the couch and flip the pages of Mo Willem’s Pigeon books all day. It all began when Pigeon just wanted to drive the bus. Now, Pigeon has many adventures. He’s a quirky, simple character. We relate to his simple requests and hear him say, “Well, why not?” He’s funny and we sympathize with his simple wish that can’t be granted. 


Your Turn to Experiment

Who are your favorite characters, and why? Maybe you have an imaginative character you’ve crafted in your head – start writing about it! Have fun. The joy of writing is to fashion imaginary worlds with unique characters and then force them to face their biggest fears. 

Thanks for visiting Pat’s Chat! 

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