Creating a Memorable Character that Readers will become attached to

by Rowan

Question: What are some good things to keep in mind when trying to create characters that are both unique and memorable? Are there any steps an author should go through to create characters that readers will get attached to?

Answer: I'm not sure steps is the right word. You could say there are many facets to a character. Developing each facet specifically will certainly give you a very detailed understanding of your character. But you can start anywhere when developing a character - with a physical trait, an intention, an experience of a similar person in real life, a photograph from a magazine, a dramatic function that needs filling etc.

A few tips...

Try brainstorming a list of questions about your character, based on your initial idea or what you already know about him. The questions should address every aspect of the character you can think of. For instance...

Personality: what he wants, his emotional needs and motivations, what he thinks and believes, how he reacts to problems or tries to handle them, interests/disinterests, likes/dislikes, intellectual capacity, etc.

Social: his family and other social connections, career, affiliations, friends, rivalries, etc.

Background: culture, community, religion, education, class, etc.

Physical: age, body type, appearance, gender, style of dress, etc.

Verbal: style of speech, favourite expressions, etc.

Skills & Limitations: what is he good/bad at.

Then brainstorm lists of answers to your questions until you find a set of traits that are particularly appealing to you. You'll know you're on the right track when you fall in love with the character (even if he's the villain).

It is helpful, especially for a protagonist or main character, to give him/her a special ability that makes him uniquely suited to tackling the story goal, as well as a critical flaw that makes his task more difficult. In addition, a main character needs inner conflict. He must be pressured over the course of the story to take a different approach to achieving the goal than he's comfortable with.

Focus on creating contrasting traits that make each character distinct from other characters. Characters should also conflicting elements within their own personality. If a character seems generic at all, get more specific about his traits, or exaggerate some traits you've established.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero