|Photograph by Hill.Josh|
The person didn't need explanation because they were memorable. In some particular way, that person left an impression on you. They may have appeared normal in every way save for their strange laugh. You might have forgotten the waiter if it wasn't for his incredibly deep and velvety voice.
Our characters need to leave an impression on the reader like that. Is your main character memorable? Do they stick in the reader's imagination so much that they need to know what happens to them? Are they the kind of person who would catch your eye in real life, either for good or bad reasons?
I'm not talking about appearance only. Are they particularly benevolent or terribly greedy? Do they sweat when they get into elevators? Is there some secret that makes the events unfolding tense because it may be revealed at any moment?
Think about your favorite characters in fiction. What made them stick out in your memory? One of my favorites is the main character in Robert Ludlum's Bourne Series...not the movie dude, but the fictional Jason Bourne. The one Ludlum wrote. Here is a guy that is just packed with memorable traits.
He is fished out of the ocean. He has amnesia...okay, unusual but...meh.
Then things get interesting. He has a plastic tube with a Swiss bank account embedded in his hip. He can speak several languages. He's blindingly fast and terribly dangerous in a fight. He has no idea why. To top it off...people are hunting him.
Jason Bourne could have been a stock assassin character, but Ludlum made him memorable by making him the opposite of a killer...he made him vulnerable. He made him loving. The Bourne Identity turned action and suspense in the Cold War era on its ear.
So now I take a look at my own characters. What is memorable about them? What draws me to their world to tell their story? What did I learn from knowing them...about myself and others?
As I start to build my novel and character outlines *stop cringing you pantsters* I hope to truly understand the grip these 'people' have on my psyche. Mostly I hope to pinpoint it for the reader and entice them on the journey with me.
Until next time...Go Write!