Wednesday, April 3, 2013

3 Tips for Writing Memorable Characters

A to Z Challenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! This is my first year participating. Basically, we post every day except Sunday, which in April means we'll finish on the 30th. We blog about something each day which starts with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. So, day 1=A, day 2=B, etc. Visit the A to Z blog for more details.

My theme is writing and related bookish things. A pretty vague theme, I'll admit, but as this is a writing/bookish blog, I thought I'd clarify.

Today's letter: C 
C is for Characters.

Everyone knows that characters are an essential element of any story. So how do we create great characters? Here are 3 simple tips:
1) Make them likable. Even if you're writing an anti-hero, your readers has to identify and root for some aspect of them. If they don't, your readers won't care about your characters and will pick up another story in which they do.

2) Make them human. Likable? Yes. Perfect? No. They should have flaws, weaknesses and problems, as all human beings do. On Monday, we talked about Arcs. Every character should end in a different spot than they began in. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to give your character a flaw that they can work toward perfecting. Give them something to work on and the audience will root for them, which creates your arc.
3) Give them quirks and memorable attributes. This is how the reader remembers
and visualizes the characters. It's how your character stands out in the crowd. They can be physical, emotional, or psychological quirks. This can also include physical attributes. Harry Potter has a scar. Tyrion Lannister is a bow-legged dwarf. Frodo is a hobbit with pointed ears and hairy feet. These attributes stick in the reader's head and help them call the character to mind with a mere mention.

If you follow these three smple tips and then flesh out the characters you've created, they will always be memorable, compelling, and thought-provoking.

What are your tips for writing good characters?


  1. I'd add give them a background - adds depth to the character.

  2. Great tips!

    Though I've found myself enjoying books whose main characters I totally disliked. Not that it really helps to have an unlikable character, particularly if it's the MC.

  3. It's the flaws that are the most memorable part of a person.