6 Ways to Make Your Characters Memorable and Enticing


“6 Ways to Make Your Characters Memorable and Enticing” by Joan Y. Edwards

Will Readers Remember Your Character Tomorrow? Why? What is it about them that is so memorable? Why do you remember certain people you’ve met in your lifetime? I think these are the same reasons people remember characters. You remember people because of something they did for you or the way you felt when you were with them. You remember people because of their ability to do things you would like to do. You remember them because of the risk and sacrifice they took to reach a goal.  You remember people you would like to know better.

As a writer, you want readers, editors, and agents to want to know your characters better. As a matter of fact, you want them obsessed with the desire to know your characters better. You want them to yearn with every part of their being to do what ever it takes to get a copy of our book to find out more about this character.  You want to put your characters in a situations and give them traits that make readers addicted to them and your writing. You want these characters to entice readers into your books. How do you do that? Here are six ways:

6 Ways to Make Your Characters Memorable and Enticing

1. Give him one really big flaw:

A big nose like Jimmy Durante

Extremely tall and powerful like Paul Bunyan

Very short like the seven little dwarfs

Really fat like the fat lady at the circus

Extremely thin like Ichabod Crane

Totally dishonest like the main character, Fletcher Reed, in the movie Liar Liar.

No tact like Mr. Hart, the Boss in 9 to 5

Unusually afraid of something

2.Make him do something surprising, perhaps the opposite of what you’d expect:

Run for president, a job that requires organization and calmness under stress, when this character is disorganized and panics under stress

Save someone from drowning when he has never been able to swim before

Won’t kill an ant, but doesn’t bat an eye when he kills poisonous snakes

Make him want something that no one in his shoes can possibly get unless he CHANGES; If he’s always run away from something out of fear, make it where he can’t avoid it any longer. Stop him and make him face this situation head on.

Apply for a job to clean houses when his house is a dump.

3. Make his clothing or apparel stand out:

Like the old raincoat that Columbo wore

Like the books, Fancy Nancy or Pinkilicious.

The Hulk, Superman, Spiderman, Star Wars Storm Troopers

Disguise

4. Make his mode of transportation stand out

Convertible

Old car

New car every year

Taxi

Never drives a car

Tractor

Wagon

Horse

5. Interrupt or destroy the routine that keeps your character well-balanced

Mr. Rogers always did the same thing at the beginning of his show and at the end of his show. Suppose the directors of the show knocked that off…what would happen…would Mr. Rogers quit or would he forge ahead to build a new pattern he could deal with.

Show the incident, event, happening, or experience that interrupts or threatens to destroy the routine that keeps your main character at peace inside. Show his struggle within himself and with everyone and everything around him to get back to normal  or to discover that he can live in this different world.

6. Make him likable, in other words, give reasons for people to care about him.

Put him in a situation where your readers empathize with him. They have felt the same way, perhaps in a different situation, but the same feelings…the same emotions. They think: “What would I do if I were in his place?”

When bad things happen to your character, readers think:

“Oh my goodness.”

“That is awful.”

“He got himself in a real mess.”

“What will he do?”

“What would I do if I were in his shoes?

“How can he avoid what he’s afraid of?”

“What if it turns out even worse than he feared?

“Uh oh! Now he’s in really big trouble!”

“What’s he going to do?”

“But, he has no Plan B.”

“Will he make it?”

“My life is so much better than his. Thank goodness.”

When good things happen to the character

“I’d like to experience that.”

“People never treat me like that. He was really lucky.

“I wish people would show their love for me that way.”

“Aw.”

If you add these dimensions to your main character, readers will remember him in their hearts forever. He will be unforgettable. You can count on it.

References that you might enjoy reading:

  1. Beth Hill. The Editor’s Blog.  “Don’t Write the Bland and Boring:” http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/05/02/dont-write-the-bland-and-the-boring/
  2. Glen C. Strathy. “How to Create Characters That Are Believable and Memorable:” http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/create-characters.html
  3. Lee Masterson. “Creating Memorable Characters:http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/characters.shtml
  4. Linda Seger. Creating Unforgettable Characters: http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Unforgettable-Characters-Linda-Seger/dp/0805011714/
  5. Steve Aitchison. “How to Be Memorable:” http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/how-to-be-memorable/
  6. Yahoo Answers. “What Makes Some People More Memorable Than Others:” http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090210185957AAoFhqo

Thank you for reading my blog. It is fun to have you here with me. I hope you had fun, too.

Out of 10 pitches, can you tell if any are from published books or movies? To find out, click the following link to do Pitch Exercise #1 at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/73SLT8B.

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

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9 Responses

  1. In Kim Cox’s Technical Tuesday Writing Tips, she referenced my “Six Ways” article. You might enjoy reading hers.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    Like

  2. Great blog. Now, I just need to remember to do this! Am saving it as a reminder.

    Like

    • Dear Carol,
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you liked the blog post so much you’re saving it for a reminder. I hope it helps in the great book you’re writing now.
      Celebrate you today!
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  3. Joan,
    This was a great post. I read a picture book yesterday that has a memorable character because she sees everything from her unique perspective. She’s a hen named Minerva Louise who stars in a series written by Janet Morgan Stoeke. The one I read was called Minerva Louise on Halloween. It is very cute and one I’d highly recommend.

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    • Dear Linda,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for the book recommendation that has a memorable character named Minerva Louise in a series by Janet Morgan Stoeke. I’m curious as to what her perspective on things might be. Hmm. I’ll have to check it out.
      Thanks for sharing your opinions with me. You always present a great perspective in things.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  4. Wonderfuk points, Joan! I like dialogue, too… both from the character him/herself and ABOUT the character from other people. I remember Georgette Heyer’s regency romance in which there were two pages of uninterrupted dialogue… and everybody knew who was talking! 🙂

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    • Dear Maureen,
      Thanks for writing. You are right. Dialogue is a great way to show characteristics of your characters. How did Georgette Heyer let everybody know who was talking on those two pages of dialogue in the Regency Romance? Awesome.

      Celebrate you!
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  5. I have this post save, too, Joan. Great points.

    Like

    • Dear Barbara,
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you thought my blog post contained great points. You even saved it. Awesome. I am one lucky lady.
      Celebrate you love of writing today.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

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