This is one of those fantasy novels that takes place on another planet, in another solar system, with non-human characters who are, nonetheless, very human in their dreams and desires. The author, a 13-year-old girl, first started imagining this world and its creatures when she was 9, and has brought them to life through her stories, illustrations, and even animation.
Chapter 1 is a four-page description of the world and its history, which helps orient the reader, and the protagonist -- an Air Wolf cub -- is introduced in Chapter 2. Almost immediately, we learn that he is “exceedingly curious and had a habit of wandering away.” His mother worries for him, as mothers are wont to do, and his friends tease him about her over-protectiveness.
He’s a runt and no one thinks he’s ready for any sort of challenge, and that’s what drives this character through the action and adventure. He wants to prove himself. He wants to be independent, and more than that, he wants to earn the respect of others by being more than they think he can be.
Strong internal conflict provides character motivation in every external conflict scene that arises. The character thinks, speaks, and acts consistently, because he has one goal: to prove himself worthy.
I’ll be honest here: what seems effortless for this young writer is something I struggle with, and I’m using her story as a model for creating clear, strong characters. How-to books are useful, but I love learning through the masterful writing of others.