Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 8, 2009

Creating Memorable Characters

Anita Nolan,  editor-in-chief at Sprouts Magazine has written some good tips for creating memorable characters on her blog that I thought writers would find useful.  Here are some. 

Ideas to create characters that are likeable, intriguing, memorable—and ultimately sympathetic.

  1. Give the main character something or someone to love.  It might be an elderly grandmother or her lost dog, but everyone loves someone or something.  Reveal it to the reader.
  2. Use humor.  Main characters don’t have to be hilariously funny, but the ability to laugh at themselves makes them more likeable.
  3. People usually root for the underdog, so stack the odds against the main character.
  4. Have your character perform an act of kindness or rescue someone or something.  However, they may come off as a meddler if they don’t have a good reason to get involved.  It might help if they are reluctant, but step to the plate nonetheless.
  5. Put the character in trouble.  The bigger the trouble, the more interesting it will be.
  6. Give the character a sense of duty.  Make them dependable.
  7. Make the character good with animals, plants, or kids.  This can easily become clichéd (rescuing a kitten up a tree, for example,) but used well, it can be effective.
  8. Integrity.  A character can be a thief but still have a moral compass.  (Robin Hood comes to mind.)
  9. The character can be in jeopardy or a victim of suffering.  However, unless he finds his own way out of his troubles, he may be pitied.

Click here to read part 2 of her post on this subject.

Thanks Anita for sharing.  This should help us with the revision process.    Kathy


  1. As I read these, I did a little checklist on the MC in one of my books – these points make it easy to see if he/she is going to make it as a memorable main character a reader will truly care about. Great points.


  2. Jeanne,

    I plan to do the same thing with my YA novel. Right now I have the whole thing torned a part, adding things, taking things out and tightening.

    Are you working on any new art pieces? Did you sign up to attend Illustrator’s Day?



  3. Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?


  4. Hello Russia!

    You certainly can. We want great Russian writers, too. Thanks for visiting and leaving me a comment.



  5. […] Creating Memorable Characters […]


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