“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
4. Make his mode of transportation stand out
New car every year
Never drives a car
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.”
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:
- 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/
- Glen C. Strathy. “How to Create Characters That Are Believable and Memorable:” http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/create-characters.html
- Lee Masterson. “Creating Memorable Characters:” http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/characters.shtml
- Linda Seger. Creating Unforgettable Characters: http://www.amazon.com/Creating-Unforgettable-Characters-Linda-Seger/dp/0805011714/
- Steve Aitchison. “How to Be Memorable:” http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/how-to-be-memorable/
- 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.
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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards
- Outlining: Character Sketches: Inciting Event and Backstory (khcox.wordpress.com)
- What makes for a good villain? (keystrokesandwordcounts.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Writing | Tagged: Columbo, how to make memorable characters, how to make unforgettable characters, how to make your characters enticing, Hulk, Ichabod Crane, Jimmy Durante, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Liar Liar, Paul Bunyan, Protagonist |