Monday, December 30, 2013

Memorable Characters

Good writers ask, "What if?"
Great writers ask, "Why?"

More than any other detail in your story, readers are captivated by characters the most. They may forget the plot points, the setting, perhaps the ending. However, an unforgettable character will stay with them forever.

A few examples: Harry Potter, Superman, Batman, Dr. Who, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jack Reacher, Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre, Bilbo Baggins.

Boring characters rarely make history.

There are many articles here at the BRP that explore the importance of characters. Here are links to a few:

Creating Compelling Characters

Characters in a Series

Calling For Back-Up: Sidekicks and Henchmen

Love Your Characters

For more information on how to build believable characters, check out Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict and the Build A Cast Workbook. They apply the concept of personality types to building characters that behave and misbehave exactly as you need them to.

Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict

Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict Ebook

Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict and the Build A Cast Workbook

Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict and the Build A Cast Workbook - Ebook

Great characters can sometimes overcome weak plot points or weak writing. If you focus on one thing for your next novel, make it your cast.

Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Totally agree, Diana ... great characters are what it is all about ... example: James Bond is a 'great character' ... on the other hand, I, while often called a 'character', do not exhibit the 'great' part, thus am doomed to obscurity.

  2. But you are quite the character and therefore memorable. : )

  3. Plots, however well thought out and complex, expire on the page without great characters to bring them to life.

    Great writing often disappears into the abyss of the forgettable without an unforgettable characters to make it memorable.

    Plots, settings, and endings, as you say, mean nothing without wonderful characters to give them meaning and dimension. The next time you grumble over the need to create detailed character sketches, remember how vital the people who populate your story are to its success.

    Crafting characters is an art, one that must be honed with perseverance and practice — but it's well worth the time and effort it takes. Love this post, Diana.

  4. Nice post. I would add the Twilight characters, Bella, Edward and Jacob. (Dropped off the grid reading that series). Also Gemma in Libba Bray's trilogy and Ruby in Love, Ruby Lavender. So many more memorable characters out there!

  5. I'll wager readers could make a longer list of characters they remember (love or loathe) than book titles or plot arcs.


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