Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Creating Memorable Characters

I think every writer wants the reader to remember the characters they create long after the book is read and put on the shelf. And, as I pondered this, a couple characters came to mind. Scarlett O'hara, Capt. Ahab, Black Beauty, Johnny Castle and all those Disney princesses.

But what is it about these characters that make them memorable? I have a couple thoughts...

First, they have strong personalities. Or at least well defined ones.

Next, they take us to places we've never been to or might never get the chance to visit. We get to share their world through how they live and see things.

Also, characters do and say things that we might never dare do or say.

We identify with these characters. We bond with them, share in the journey they take, struggle, and eventually rejoice with them.

We all know it's a hard road to publication and the future looks even more difficult. But I believe there are always going to be readers. No matter what happens in the real world, people will want to be entertained. They'll want to escape to other worlds and become part of it. They'll want to become that character and take part of his or her adventure.

This is where memorable characters come in. The more memorable our character, the better chance we have of publication.

So...what characters do you remember best and what makes them memorable for you?


Cheryl said...

In my childhood, Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables was a favorite. She got into trouble, she wasn't always well liked--in fact she was often unjustly mistreated by some of the people in her community, and yet, she always managed to come out smelling like a rose.

She had spunk and determination, and no matter what life threw her way, whether it was an unkind adoptive parent, the death of her beloved Matthew, or dealing with the Pringles, she kept going.

Her world came crashing down when Gilbert Blythe became gravely ill, and she had to admit that even though she never sought him as a suitor and she had pretended they were just friends, that she was in love with him all along...and it might be too late to do anything about it.

But then Gil survived and they made a life together that also had its moments of sorrow and hardships that Anne approached the same way as she always had.

No wonder Anne has been popular for so many years. She truly touches the heart of young girls.

zoia said...

I am a writer/thinker myself,but at the same time an avid reader too. I usually go for murder mysteries,especially Mary Higgins Clark. Still I believe that most writers go for a strong plot,effective storytelling and crisp dialogues. No one pays much attention to the building of a memorable character. I am working on my first novel. Lets see what critics say about me. . . .