Writing Strategies

Creating Memorable Characters


The audience needs to CARE about characters in order to remember them.  Here are 11 things writers can consider to create memorable characters.

  1. What does the character WANT?  Whether creating the most complex characters or the simplest, every character has a desire to do SOMETHING; to go SOMEWHERE.  Why does the chicken want to cross the road?  Is he running from something?  To something? Searching for something? Trying to forget about something?  What does the chicken WANT?
  2. What makes the character REAL? We’ve all heard it, we’ve all said it, we all believe it:  Nobody’s perfect.  Each character needs some good qualities and some bad qualities.  What is it about the chicken that we like?  Is he a good looking chicken?  Is he kind hearted? Does he have the best intentions?
  3. What is it about the chicken that we don’t like?  Is he dirty?  Is he forgetful?  What inner demons does he try to suppress?
  4. What HABITS does the character have?  Everyone has quirks.  Does the chicken like to recline on a Lazy-Boy and flick through the channels?  Is he an avid golfer?  Does he only eat corn at dawn and asparagus at dusk?
  5. What does the character FEAR?  What makes the chicken pull the covers over his eyes and hide?  The butcher’s knife?  The farmer’s wife stealing the eggs?  The wolf in sheep’s clothing? What does the chicken FEAR?
  6. What does the character LOOK like?  Evoking the senses helps to create realism.  Describe what the audience sees?  Does the chicken have a crooked beak?  Missing a leg?  What color are his feathers?
  7. What does the character SOUND like?  Does the chicken have a beautiful aria-like cluck?  Is his voice grating?  Does he speak in a staccato? Have a French accent?
  8. What does the character SMELL like?  Is the chicken particularly clean and smell like lilacs abloom after a summer’s rain?  Does he smell like the sewer after a water main break?
  9. TASTE?  The audience probably doesn’t care what the character tastes like unless they are reading a steamy romance novel; however, this may be important….all of the senses should be considered—even if only momentarily.  Is the chicken juicy?  Dry? Salty?
  10. What does the character FEEL like when they are touched?  Are the chicken feathers soft?  Are they coarse?  Do they look oily but feel silky?
  11. How does the character CHANGE?  The best characters change from the beginning to end.  Does your chicken start selfish and become understanding of others?  Does he learn that beauty is more than skin deep? Does he overcome his fear of the wolf and is able to stand up for himself?
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