Friday, 5 April 2013

Guest blogger Mark Richards

Today's guest blogger is writer and blogger Mark Richards. His chosen specialist subject is 'Why Character Matters' and he writes...

A fine, manly title for a blog. And my apologies if you thought it might be written by your old headmaster…

But I’m in academic mode. Let’s talk about text-books for a while: the ones you bought when you were about six months pregnant. How to be a Dashed Fine Parent or whatever it was called. (And didn’t us Dads breathe a sigh of relief when we read the chapter on Sore, Cracked and Bleeding Nipples… Got off lightly there, lads.)

If you were still reading somewhere close to the end of the book – if the sleepless nights hadn’t got to you by then – you might have come across a paragraph or two on the character of your children.

It’s important whatever you do not to characterise your children. Labelling your children ‘The Clever One’ and ‘The Naughty One’ can harm their development and give them a negative self-image. Plus it can intensify sibling rivalry.

All jolly good stuff, and absolutely right.

Unless you happen to be writing about your children…

Because for bloggers, I think the opposite might be true.

Let me introduce you to my children, as they feature in my blog at Best Dad I Can Be:

• The nerdy/geeky nine-brains-but-can’t-tidy-his-bedroom one
• The sassy, opinionated, far-too-sexually-aware typical teenage girl one
• And the sensitive, understanding, teenager-you-can-talk-to one

I think it’s the same whether you’re writing a series of books, establishing a brand or blogging about your children. If you want people to come back to you, there has to be a simple and consistent message – and strong, clear, identifiable characters are part of that. Why is the Dragon Tattoo trilogy so successful? In large part because Lisbeth Salander is such a compelling character – but not perfect, by any means.

If anyone wants to discuss this with me, I’m always happy to talk about blogging and you can reach me either via my blog or through Tim.

PS This blog was written by the slightly overweight, going grey, useless-at-DIY and watches-too-much-football one…
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