***Author’s Note: I am pleased to announce that we will have a special guest blogger, Lynnette Bonner, on September 7th. Lynnette is the author of the newly released ‘Rocky Mountain Oasis’. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Lynnette!
Also, I wanted to let you know that our first interviewee, K.M. Weiland, has just released the book trailer for her next release, ‘Behold the Dawn’. Please go check out the trailer at her site, Wordplay. I’m sure you’ll be as excited about the book as I am after seeing it. I can’t wait to share her interview with you on October 6th & 14th!
And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog…***
How can you ensure that you’ll get readers coming back time and time again?
Create memorable characters, of course!
While plotting is essential–you can’t do anything without a good, well planned plot–I feel that having characters that make an impact on you are as important as plotting.
Most writers and readers have their own ideas on how you go about creating memorable characters. But, what exactly makes a character you just can’t get out of your head?
In order to keep this brief, I’m going to focus on the protagonist(s). While a great antagonist must counter-balance the protagonist, I feel that in order to analyze both antagonists & protagonists may take more time and space than I’ve allowed here.
I’m sure you can name a few leading men or ladies in any of the books (or movies) you’ve read that make you want more of them. This is usually a good sign. For today’s examples, I’m actually going to go to my second entertainment love, movies, specifically, Star Wars, the original trilogy. Your examples may come from something else, but next time you read a book or watch a TV show or movie, I challenge you to analyze why you like a character or you don’t.
Since I always kind of had a yen to be Han Solo, I’m going to pick on him today. Putting aside the actor who played him, Harrison Ford, what makes him memorable? First, I’d say his cocky attitude. While not necessarily likable, it sets him apart from Luke’s borderline navïeté or Leia’s spunk. His self-centeredness, smart mouth, and disbelief of ‘The Force’ also comes to mind. (“I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything that could make me believe there’s one ‘all powerful force’ controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field controlling my destiny.”) I also love the moment of jealousy he experiences at the end of Episode VI when he makes the mistake of assuming that Leia loves Luke romantically.
Bad stuff aside, what I like about Han that would be considered redeeming characteristics are the loyalty he shows to his friends. (Coming back to help Luke out at the end of Episode IV; tracking down Luke when he was out in the midst of a blizzard on Hoth in Episode V; despite being blinded, trying to keep Lando out of the pit in Episode VI, as well as assuring Leia that he didn’t think Luke was on the Death Star when it exploded at the end of the same film.)
I also like the romantic lead position that George Lucas placed him in. I, for one, am a bit of a romantic and love to have at least a hint of romance in any movie or book I read. The interplay between Han & Leia, while subtle, is priceless.
His creativity and ingenuity also leaves a lasting impression: hiding in the smuggling holds, hiding (again!) in an asteroid, protecting Luke from the cold by opening up the carcass of the beast he’d ridden and stuffing Luke inside, coming up with an assault plan to invade the Imperial station on Endor.
When you put everything together, and add back in the acting talents of Harrison Ford, my feeling is that you get a character that leaves a lasting impression on almost everyone, whether those impressions come from his character flaws or character strengths.
I’d love to hear your feedback! Please share about the characters you love and why, or anything else that strikes you.
Until next time,
P.S.– For more information on creating characters, I highly recommend the following books & blogs:
‘Getting Into Character’ by Brandilyn Collins
‘Writers Guide to Character Traits’ by Linda Edelstein
‘The Fire in Fiction’ by Donald Maass
‘Character Takeover’ at the Sheepish Scribe
‘Strong Characters’ at Writing Advice and Good Books
Likeability is Overrated
Theme and Character Progression
Interviewing Your Characters