Mo'ne Davis, the now-famous pitcher and infielder of the Taney Little League team of Philadelphia is exactly the kind of character I like to write about. She's a kid doing extraordinary things, but more importantly, she's someone who shows strength of character by who she is, not what she does. Yet those two ideas are intricately tied. Mo'ne excels on the field because of who she is off of the field.
When I started developing main character, Summer Haas, for my middle-grade novel, BINGO SUMMER, I wanted a mentally-tough character who wouldn't be beaten down by the rapid changes happening in her young life. Her parents are divorced, she moves to a new community, she leaves her best friend behind. Through it all, she's determined to be a great softball player, but how did she get there? She focused on the goal, being the best she could be, yet kept her ego in check even when she beat an established player out of the coveted starting position.
Creating three-dimensional characters, especially heroic main characters, is hard work. They have to be admirable yet not without fault, tough yet vulnerable. I wish Mo'ne Davis was playing ball when I wrote BINGO SUMMER. Using real-life role models like her to inspire characters makes the writing process a whole lot easier.