Creating Memorable Characters

Friday, July 31, 2009
It was during a very lonely time in my childhood that I discovered what makes memorable characters. Laura Ingalls was always there on my bookshelf, waiting to take me on another adventure. She never judged me or called me names. She cheered me up when I was sad, and for a time, I forgot all about being lonely and unhappy.

She was my friend.

Since then, the characters that strummed the deepest cord inside me have always managed to achieve some level of friendship. I felt that I knew them. What they looked like, their weaknesses and strengths.

But it wasn't until I started writing that I understood the power of this secret. Your readers should see your MC as their friend. It's why people get so annoyed when their characters are cast wrong in the movie. 'Cause, by dang, my friend doesn't look like that. Think about it. All people are lonely at some point. All of us want to reach out and connect with others. One of the easiest ways to do this is through a book.

As Disney says, "See a need, fill a need."

People want friends. Give them one. Figure out what kinds of things people value in their friends and you'll be a long way to creating characters that will resonate with them. They don't have to be perfect, but they do have to be someone an audience would want to know. For the next several hours, you're audience is going to go through an experience with your MC. At times, they'll almost wish they were your character (sound familiar to real life?). Your characters enemies will be your readers enemies.

The best part. Both your MC and your reader will *defeat* them (unlike real life).

Who are some of your "book friends?" Why?


  1. Wow, great thoughts! I've never thought of this way. I'm not sure how much of a friend my characters are to my readers. I'll have to go look over this. :D

  1. Just to play devil's advocate, can't a reader also sometimes dislike a character and yet want to keep reading about them?
    I also grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder (I used to have terrible identity confusion because of our first names) and amazingly enough my son, who is not a great reader, loves her as well, so I guess there must be a "Laura Ingalls Wilder" gene.

  1. Glamis: Thanks!

    Laura: Sure. Haven't you ever had a friend that you disliked, to a point, but you still did things with them? I had a friend whose voice was high pitched and scratchy. Drove me crazy. But she was such a genuine person that I learned to ignore it.

    Usually such characters have great redeeming qualities that make up for their flaws. So a bad boy with tatoos and a hard ass personality, can also be extremely honest and gentle.

  1. glovin said...:

    Wow, great thoughts! I've never thought of this way.I'll have to go look over this.

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