Thursday, May 31, 2012

Creating Memorable Characters, Part 5

Go Beyond the Obvious
The obvious physical features we all use to immediately qualify a person when we meet him or her are eye and hair color, height and weight. You may think this is easy to decide, but you can use these obvious features to make your characters more memorable while also advancing your story line. In Sandra Balzo's Maggy Thorsen series, character Jake Pavlik has eyes that change color according to his mood. Once Maggy discovers this, she uses it to her advantage.

When creating the features of your characters, consider the less obvious qualities such as voice (think Fran Drescher) and bone structure (Hulk like). Does he/she have a striking feature? A nose that rivals the black diamond downhill at Aspen? Hands the size of cantaloupe? Of course, if you’re going to create such a feature, don't mention it once and forget about it. Allow it play a role--those cantaloupe hands are your antagonist's weapons.

Use appearance to accent personality.

Sanguine personalities tend to like the glittery and colorful, so maybe your protagonist always wears Hawaiian shirts or carries a glitzy purse the size of a great Dane. A melancholy more often will wear subdued colors like black and navy blue. Is your character quirky? Maybe she wears reflector vest orange lipstick. Is he phlegmatic? Have him wear clothes that always look like he slept in them. In fact, maybe that’s exactly what he does. You get the point. Use these things to create features your reader will remember. For example: Harry Potter and his round eyeglasses, Columbo and his rumpled overcoat, Snow White and her snow white complexion.

Utilize appearance to grow your character'sith,e allow it to play are part in moving your plot along its way.  personality.

Debra L. Butterfield © 2012

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