At the Pikes Peak Conference, I took a class by debut author Marie Wu called Heroes, Villians, and Sidekicks. She asked us “what makes a book memorable?” The answer: it is plot or characters. And strong characters linger longer in our minds than a strong plot. Her tips are helpful for first time writers and for those who are trying to add more complexity to their characters. Here are the tidbits that I thought were important:
- Have some of your protagonist’s weaknesses be the antagonist strengths and vice versa. It will automatically cause tension between the two.
- If you have a large supporting cast of secondary characters, combine some of them and make them stronger, more memorable.
- Don’t have your characters too perfect, too good, too bad.
- Look at it from the antagonists perspective. Maybe s/he thinks that what they are doing is right too.
The last one is my favorite because she illustrated it with a story. She lived in China when the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred. And she spoke about how the Chinese agreed with the government because of the recent revolution and the economic hard times. I had never thought about it from their perspective before and it made me examine my antagonists motives more. In fact, I am going to enhance the ending because of it. Also, I realized that I struggled with my characters being reserved because I am. For my characters to be more authentic, I needed to be a tad more open, which is why I wrote my last blog. I know that because of her class, I will be a better character writer.
What do you do to make your character more memorable?