Developing Memorable Characters

Every reader finds themselves fond of one or more characters such as Harry Potter of the JK Rowling series, or Frodo Baggins of the Lord of the Rings fame. Some readers may find themselves attached to even the bad guy of story such as Artemis Entreri of the RA Salvatore series, or even the ever likeable cannibal of Hannibal Lecter of Silence of the Lambs.

In my fanfiction series, I created a vampire assassin with serious mental issues. Oddly a number of readers admitted to enjoying him in the story. What made him interesting? I allowed the readers to learn about him bit by bit through the story, to see his flaws but also his intentions as being real. He wasn’t psychotic because he was crazy. He had an unusual reasoning of the world around him. There was a whole back story to him, some fans even emailed me asking what it might be. (I made them wait for the next story).

When I’m writing fiction, I find myself becoming each character whenever I write from their point of view. I become male or female, shy or outgoing, or cruel or so nice it would make your teeth hurt. This enables me to make realistic characters. I feel them. I know them. I understand their backgrounds and why they do what they do.

A short story I published stemmed from the point of view of a vampire on the hunt. I wrote in first person, allowing the reader to delve into his thoughts as he selected his victim. The reader learns his history, perhaps grows attached, and even cares what happens to him. The end provides an usual twist for readers. I’ll have to let you decide on your thoughts with this character…

My husband once asked me if I considered myself the girl in one story he read of mine, but I had to explain I’m all of the characters. I suppose its similar to spliting up your personality, or shifting things around a bit. I expand my imagination and become someone else.

Characters should also be well rounded. They need flaws as much as they need ideals. You can descibe a character, not just physically, but also their little quirks and habits, or odd way of talking.  Not all protagonists are noble, just as not all antagonists are cruel.

Memorable characters provoke emotion from a reader. They can hate them, or even be annoyed. I’ve found some characters irksome, while some stories encompass such realistic characters I want to escape over and over into their world.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Developing Memorable Characters

  1. theoates

    This is an excellent way to write good characters, but at the same time they seem similar to real relationships in that some characters don’t reveal everything about themselves at once

    Like

  2. I find myself ‘becoming’ each character too, whether they’re on my hero/heroine’s side or against them. In that way I find myself writing a rounded character who has complex and understandable motivations. If they happen to be antagonists, this makes them particularly threatening and compelling.

    Your husband’s comment was interesting, and typical of the non-writer’s point of view. Who are you in the story, a friend might ask? But that is to miss the point of what the writer does. When you are writing, you are everyone.

    Like

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