The Character-Reader Connection

During the Beta Reader stage for Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen, J.C. Buchanan one of my beta readers, had a favorite character. That character was Prehna Birchdell, the smart, logical, outspoken friend and complete opposite of Lydia Green.

The fact that Prehna was J.C.’s favorite character caught me completely off guard.

Not because I didn’t like Prehna, I did. But because in the first draft of the story she had absolutely no personality, and I had been struggling to make her character ‘work’ ever since.

Because of this, somehow the thought had never occurred to me that she would be anyone’s favorite character. I had begun to think of her less as a character and more as a piece of the plot – a thread that had grown tangled and I had only just managed to weave back in smoothly.

But J.C. loved her. She loved Prehna a lot more than I did at that moment, and because she really cared, she noticed a lot more than I did.
Some of her comments include:

“NO!!! PREHNA!!!!”

“I really love the the development of Lydia’s character here–however, fit within this scene, the fact that she isn’t more concerned for Prehna makes her a smidge less likable. Just a thought:)”

“I LOVE this whole interaction. Lydia and Prehna both get a chance to be totally real and get everything in the open–Lydia admits she was wrong, Prehna confesses her hesitancy. It makes the characters SO relatable and so likable!!!”

“Is Lydia worried at all for Prehna? Because I’m freaking out here nothing better happen to Prehna”

Obviously… My neglect of Prehna had caused some problems. (They’re fixed now, I promise. XD)

This taught me two valuable lessons.

  1. Write every character as if it’s your reader’s favorite, because they might be. Let them have their moments, don’t shove them to the side as ‘just another character’.
  2. Find good beta readers who care about your characters (sometimes more than you do) and your story and want them to be the best they can be.

So, to recap. Thank you J.C., for helping me create the Prehna Birchdell we all know today.

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence

4 thoughts on “The Character-Reader Connection

  1. Shreya Ganguly says:

    This is a wonderful blog post. It makes me feel a little better that the initial drafts of Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen were not perfect because the printed and published version is more than perfect. This is definitely something I have to keep in mind as I am developing my characters. Although Prehna was not my favorite character, she was likable and a very important part of the story. My favorite was Lydia herself, but I also loved Coran, Terra, and Pit who appears mostly at the beginning and end of the book. Zale and Zamilla were so fun to read about.

    • Millie Florence says:

      Hey Shreya,

      Oh yes, the first drafts of Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen were far from perfect – all first drafts are. Crafting a good book takes a lot of time, and even now I don’t think Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen is perfect. It’s a good book, but no book is perfect.

      I’m glad you found this post useful and I’m glad you enjoyed the story of Lydia Green!

      Happy Writing!
      – Millie

      • Shreya Ganguly says:

        What I like in books and stories is the beauty in imperfections. Sometimes, the imperfections carry out such strong emotions and character development. I read your first attempts at the first line of Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen and it is wonderful to see how much a book changes from first draft to publication. This post was certainly useful and the book I am currently writing happens to have a lot of symbolism and metaphors. I am excited to read your third book.

        Happy writing.

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