When I write, it is critical that I feel a powerful connection to (even a sense of becoming) my main character. Yesterday, as I was finishing up a reading & activiting guide for the last book in a super-fun middle-grade sci-fi (and kind of fantasy--okay, there are zombies involved) series, I realized the same is true when I write ABOUT a book.
To produce a strong guide, it's essential to connect with the main character and also think about how the book's reader's are going to do so. For example, in the story mentioned above, the mc has to make a very difficult choice. So, I ask myself, how do I feel about the character's decision? If I were a kid, watching this plot unfold as a movie, would I be cheering, crying, gripping the arms of my seat? If I were standing beside the main character, what would I do? Really trying to get under the skin of the situation (this, by the way, would be hilarious if you knew the plot of the novel) is a great way to discover how to encourage readers to engage in the story.
How do you connect to your characters? Music, action, free writing? Does reading or writing about other novels teach you anything about your own writing-connection process?