Let me ask you a question! Of all the fiction you have read over the years, what book or books stand out the most?
You can probably narrow it down to a handful of novels and that’s it! It’s surprising isn’t? Don’t get me wrong there are so many very good novels out there, sometimes it’s difficult to pick just one! However, in my view memorable characters is what will take your book from good to excellent! And that’s the whole point of it isn’t it? You want your book to go beyond the ordinary and become extraordinary!
However, this process is worth mulling over when you are creating characters, especially your main character. Physical characteristics are by no means the only important facet of character creation. That said, do by all means make your protagonists unusual. For example, Alex Cross the central character in many of James Patterson’s novels stands not only because he is African/American but also because he is very well educated, enjoys classical music and is a loving family man! Not at all typical for a police detective! If you are not familiar with James Patterson’s work I urge you to take your pick from one of his many novels and get stuck in! You will not be disappointed! He is a great thriller writer!
So, the point I am trying to make here is that the fictional character Alex Cross I remember almost as if he were a real person and not a creation from a very competent writer! And this is what you need to create if you are going to hook your readers and have them think about your novel long after they have finished reading it!
Back to Alex Cross for a moment. Aside from his race he is also tall and distinctive and his side-kick Sampson is even taller and difficult to overlook, let alone forget! And I can tell you now that I have not read a James Patterson novel in some time, but I will remember those characters forever!
When developing character you should be striving for uniqueness and individuality because these are the aspects your readers will identify with on a subconscious level.
Physical attributes are one thing and can be anything, but more importantly think about the mental aspects of your character. Are they likeable or nasty? Are they forgetful or do they have a good memory? Are they trusting, shady, disagreeable, attractive? What sort of family background do they come from? Was it idyllic or was it less so? Do they have any secrets that you may or may not reveal by the end of the book. What are their inner thoughts and feelings, not just the obvious ones. The many aspects of creating character is complex and should not be underestimated for a moment, so get stuck in and see where it takes you. Your end result might surprise you!
Writing a novel it is a long involved process with the object being to keep the attention of your readers! Do not give them the opportunity to toss your book aside and start reading someone else’s work!
Finally, aim to create big, bold, bright characters, and watch your readers become fans!
Until next time,
Happy writing, S