Memorable Characters

How many stories have you read that contain characters who do not resonate with you? When you finish the text, you can’t recall a single striking detail about that character.

There is nothing unique about him. Brown hair and eyes. Medium height. Slim build. Pleasant personality, but not engaging.

As a reader, you might not have read to the end out of boredom or dissatisfaction. Why do this to your readers?

You must create individuals that are unique in important ways. Give her freckles across the bridge of her nose and a loud, booming voice. A sultry walk. A gift for music. Place her in a restaurant, playing the piano to an engaged audience.

Make her familiar to the reader: someone that the reader might have known back in high school. Maybe she wasn’t class president, but she was one of the smart ones. You studied together in the library during lunch. You played on the same team, and while you excelled, she persevered.

When your reader comes in contact with her, there is a pleasant vibe. A glow or hum. A feeling of empathy towards the character’s situation.

Your character is likable, but has flaws. He speaks calmly, yet forgets names and important dates. He loves his spouse but still looks dreamily at others passing by.

Make your character someone that demands attention. Someone so worthwhile that readers are compelled to follow that moment in the person’s life. The reader doesn’t have to like the character, but does have to care about him.

As time passes in your story, the reader will either root for or against your character’s ability to achieve her goal, even if that goal isn’t something that the reader would want for herself.

When we read, we want to follow the character through her day, be a part of her world. Be thankful when good things happen to her, cry when tragedy strikes.

If you do this, if you create a character who is memorable, then your readers will be fully engaged throughout the telling of the story. They will root for or against the character each step of the way. And when the end comes around, the reader will feel satisfied.

That’s your goal.

About Terry Connelly

Terry Connelly is a retired high school English teacher. She earned her BA and Single Subject Teaching credential from California State University of the East Bay, in Hayward, California. She taught for 18 years at Newark Memorial High School in Newark, California. She was gifted to work with both College Prep students and those with learning disabilities.
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