Monthly Archives: September 2014

Getting into characters: What breaks their hearts?

by Heather Harris Brady

Like a lot of you I suspect, I have pages and pages of notes related to characters, especially getting to know a main character. It’s all good information, and a good exercise but it was starting to get overwhelming. Then I saw a post today on Terri Eicholz’ great Engage Their Minds blog about making heartbreak maps. And that’s it really, isn’t it? When you get right down to brass tacks, whatever breaks your character’s heart is what is going to drive everything.

The process is simple:

  • Step one: just draw a heart shape and write all your character’s passions in it.
  • Step two: draw a line out from each passion to a bubble.
  • Step three: in each bubble write what would break your character’s heart about that particular passion.

Maybe it’s because I’m a visual learner, but I think this exercise is really going to help me crystallize the driving emotional factors behind my characters. I’m doing maps for each character and then I’m going to hang them up so I can refer back to them easily. When I get a good sample finished I’ll post it.

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Banned Books Week is almost here!

I’ve been thinking of a series of reading list posts for several reasons, two of whom live in my house and are constantly looking for a more challenging read. I don’t know if any of these books have been challenged themselves, but we’ll get to those later.

So here is the first list, for anyone with a middle grader like mine who has a high-school lexile paired with the sensibilities of a tween. It’s courtesy of the ALA, the same people who bring us Banned Books Week!

YA books that won’t make you blush – All the excitement, none of the naughty.

Alender, KatieBad Girls Don’t Die.  Hyperion Books.  2010. 978-1423108771. $8.99.

Kasey’s dolls could give Chucky a run for his money.


Bodeen, S.AThe Compound.   Square Fish.  2009. 978-0312578602. $9.99.

Eli’s family survived nuclear fallout, but can they survive his father’s greatest lie?


Carter, Ally. Heist Society.  Hyperion Books CH.  2011.  978-1423116615. $8.99.

Heisting priceless art and cute boys’ hearts.


Farraiolo, JackSidekicks.  Harry N. Abrams.  2012.  978-1419701856. $6.95.

Bright Boy isn’t so boyish anymore.


Gier, Kirsten. Ruby Red.  Square Fish.  2012. 978-0312551513. $9.99.

A skipped gene leads to time travel trouble.


Griffin, AdelePicture the Dead.  Illus. Lisa Brown.  Sourcebooks (Fire). 2012. 978-1402268342. $8.99.

Eternal love from the grave.


Hale, ShannonCalamity Jack. Illus. Nathan Hale.  Bloomsbury.  2010. 978-1599903736. $15.99.

Jack to the rescue!


Harrison, Lisi.  Monster High.  Poppy. 2011.  978-0316176217. $8.99.

Cliques like no other.


Higgins, F.E.  The Bone Magician.  Square Fish.  2008. 978-0312659448. $7.99.

No one is surprised when the dead start talking.


Hoffman, AliceGreen Heart.  Scholastic.  2012. 978-0545141963. $9.99.

Life after a terrible tragedy.


Langan, JohnSearch for Safety (Bluford High).  Scholastic.  2012.  $5.99.  978-0545395489.

Where do you go when home is no longer safe?


Leavitt, LindseySean Griswold’s Head.  Bloomsbury.  2012. 978-1591940661. $9.99.

Payton can’t wait to get inside Sean’s head.


Northrop, Michael. Trapped. Scholastic. 2012. 978-0545210133. $9.99.

Snow day gone wrong.


ORoark, Francis DowellTen Miles Past Normal.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 2012.  978-1416995869.  $8.99.

How do you make a good first impression with goat poop on your shoes?


Riordan, RickThe Lost Hero: Heroes of Olympus, Book 1.  Hyperion Books CH.  2012. 978-1423113461.   $9.99.

There’s a new demigod in town.


Schmidt, GaryThe Wednesday Wars.  Sandpiper.  2009.  978-0547237602.  $6.99.

Surviving the slings and arrows of seventh grade.


Schreiber, EllenVampire Kisses: Graveyard Games, vol 1.  Illus. Xian Nu Studio.  Katherine Tegen Books.  2011.  978-0062026729. $9.99.

Prince Charming is a vampire!


Telgemeier, RainaSmile. Graphix.  Illus. Raina Telgemeier.  2010. 978-0545132060. $10.99.

All she wants for high school is her two front teeth.


*Van Draanen, WendelinThe Running Dream.  Ember. $9.99.  978-0375866289. $10.99.

Running away from her past and her future.


Walters, EricBetween Heaven and Earth.  Orca.  2012.  978-1554699414. $9.95.

DJ’s on the journey of a lifetime.


*Wright, Bil. Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy.  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. 2012.   978-1416940043. $9.99.

Watch out world of glamor, here comes Carlos!