Each character must be memorable.
Even if you don’t know anything about character development you know this is true. Even if a character does not appear or reappear for several chapters, when he does, readers will remember him.
Ah, that’s very true, you say. But how do I go accomplishing this? Let’s look at some ideas.
Give your character different ethnic backgrounds.
Here’s an example from Meg Chittenden’s More Than You Know:
“I might have seen this here hombre,” he said, tapping the photo with a gnarled, tobacco-stained finger. “Had a gal with him. Right buxom gal. Said they was on their honeymoon.”
Someone with such a unique Mexican accent and diction is sure to be memorable.
Give your character a unique mannerism.
Make sure that this mannerism isn’t annoying. If it is, you’ll surely turn off the readers. In my award winning and best selling Harry Bronson Thriller Series, Bronson drinks lots of coffee. My readers often comment on his coffee drinking situation.
Give your character a unique speech pattern.
But again, one that is not annoying. Referring back to Harry Bronson, he always says ma’am and cuts off the g at the end of the words so that singing becomes singin’. Because of this unique speech pattern, I don’t even have to use an attribution. The reader always knows it is Bronson who is speaking.
Give your character a useful occupation or a hobby.
Useful for the story, of course. Here are some examples you may want to consider:
- Story set against science, make your character a scientist
- Computer research expert for an espionage story
- Degree in criminal justice if a mystery
Give your characters some kind of history.
This adds dimension to the character. However, use only what is necessary to the story. Don’t make the mistake of telling the reader everything simply because you, the author, know the entire story. When using this technique, make sure you show it (remember the writing number one advice: show, don’t tell) in scenes of action and dialogue not in blocks. Also, do not have your character muse about his or her past.
Use only the most important characters’ viewpoints.
This helps establish a bond between the reader and the character. Using too many viewpoints tends to destroy reader identity.
Do your research
Before portraying your characters, interview professionals who work in the fields that your character will be working on or is interested in. This knowledge will give the story an air of authenticity and will make your character more memorable.
We all have names, right? But what’s in a name?
A lot more than you expect. Names influence how a reader perceives a character. For example, from whom would you expect more? From someone name William Lloyd Wothworth, IV or from Agnes Jones? Consequently, think carefully about your character’s name. Don’t give him the first one that pops into your mind. Instead, use the characters’ names to characterize them.
While you’re considering what names to give them, think about this: if the characters’ names begin with the same letter, it causes confusion in the readers’ minds. For example, if one of your characters is named Marion and the other one Melanie, the reader will get those two characters confused. To avoid this mistake, make a list of all of your characters to make sure that each has a distinct sounding name.
Finally, always listen to your characters. If they take over, that means you’ve created breathing characters. But if you really want to create living, breathing characters, then I’d advise you to sign up for my workshop. I’ll be giving you a lot more hints, all the way from how to prepare yourself before you create a character to adding the final touches to the finished character.
So, are you ready? Let’s begin! “See” you soon.
Love to learn more? Sign up for LC’s class Creating Unforgettable Characters with L.C. Hayden from April 9 – April 22!
L.C. Hayden is the author of the popular Harry Bronson and Aimee Brent mystery series. Her works have been finalists for the Agatha and LCC Awards, hit the Pennsylvania Top 40, the B&N Top 10, and the Kindle Best Seller Lists. Hayden has also just introduced a possible new mystery series, Secrets of the Tunnels.
Her angel/miracle series are International Best Sellers.
Hayden is also a popular speaker. She presents workshops, has spoken to clubs, and major cruise lines have hired her to speak while cruising all over the world. From October 2006 to October 2007, Hayden hosted Mystery Writers of America’s only talk show, Murder Must Air.
[box] What Lies Beyond the Fence
For Bronson, this was going to be an easy assignment. Find Roger and Norma, the teens that stole an important book and return it to its original owners. But when Bronson locates the book, Roger reveals the truth behind the book’s existence—a truth so shocking that Bronson is forced to help them escape.
Then Ellen, his partner’s ex, gets kidnapped and Bronson is forced to decide who he will save: Ellen or two stranded teenagers who look up at him for their survival.
Who will he choose? His decision will determine who lives—and who dies.
Overall a very good read. Good catchy opening. Lots of suspense and good character development. Possibly the best Bronson book in the series.
FBI Special Agent in Charge, retired
Author of the Ben Douglas Series
The story line is really good. I never saw the end coming. The book had me rushing through it on pins and needles! Excellent. Definitely worth my reading time.