What makes a character memorable? What makes them a favorite? Or what makes them a character you love to hate?
As a reader there are several authors who have created memorable characters for me. One character who is also part of an unforgettable couple, is Police Detective Eve Dallas of Nora Robert’s J.D. Robb “In Death” series. She and her husband Roark are very different, yet they are the perfect balance. My hope is to one day create characters as awesome as these. What I like about Eve is the fact she is not perfect. Her backstory is tragic, but she is not a victim. Roark isn’t a typical hero. He walks a fine line between the criminal world and legitimate business. Who they are and their pasts often cause conflicts to their relationship, but it is also part of their strength.
Sabrina Jeffries’ Hellions of Halstead Hall series is filled with memorable characters from the grandmother matriarch to the various siblings. While the siblings are nobility, grandmother is not but she’s the lady with the cash and control. Oliver, Lord Stoneville, is known for being cold but as the oldest he’s tried to stay in control of his emotions and his siblings. One of the things I love about Jeffries’ is the way she brings former main characters back to people her stories and add a little familiarity to a new story.
Stephanie Plumb, Janet Evanovich’s accident-prone bounty hunter/bond enforcement agent and Laurel K. Hamilton’s vampire hunter/executioner, Anita Blake are very different yet both memorable characters. They are both action-heroines with tangled love lives. Both authors use humor to diffuse difficult situations and bring light to current topics. While Stephanie never seems to get any better at her job, she eventually accidently succeeds. Anita Blake often fails, at least at first but she is a powerful necromancer and with each story she gains power and strength even as she battles personal problems and emotional struggles.
Will Thomas’ Barker and Llewelyn series is similar in many ways to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and for me, the characters are just as memorable. Barker is a huge Scotsman raised in China with strong religious beliefs, very different from the opium smoking Holmes, yet their detective skills are similar. Barker has ties to the criminal underworld, the Asian community of London, and the has built a reputation as an inquiry agent. He is big, smart, athletic, and wealthy. His partner, Llewelyn is a petite Welshman whose collegiate career ended when he went to prison. He comes to Barker’s agency when he has no other choice. The combination of these two very different characters is what makes them work together so well, and so memorable.
So, what makes a character memorable? What makes a character someone you want to read about over and over again? What characters do you love or love to hate?
In my own writing, I like to create characters that feel real. I want to have them reacting to situations in a believable manner and feel like people you know. Does that make them memorable or lovable? For me, as a writer, there are certain characters I’ve enjoyed writing more than others. Some I want to explore more because I feel there is more to their story. Two of my favorite characters to write in my new series are the grandmothers. One, Grandma Doris/Dodie is a pot smoking former hooker who has been married or shacked up with numerous men. She borders between “cool” grandma and “bad” grandma. The other grandmother, Grandmother Louise was married to one man. She is a Bible thumper, opinionated woman who is always more worried about what other people think than about her family. I think a friendship and rivalry between these two very different women will be fun to write and add to the family dynamics of the Harrell Family Chronicles.
Some of my other favorites include the strong female characters of my first three stories:
Rae Lynn Grimes, Dana Windley and Jenna McKenzie Roberts. These women, their friendship and their battles felt so real to me. As I was writing these characters I felt as if I could reach out and touch them. I hope as readers discover them, they too will come to think of them as friends.
I’d love to hear about some of your favorite characters or what you are looking for in a character.
What are you reading?