We all have our unforgettable ones – the characters who marched into our life, demanded our attention, made us feel something, everything, then abruptly left when the story was over.
We’re talking about the ones who left us wanting more. Made us miss them. Need them. Damn them! Dallas “Dally” Winston, we’re talking about you.
Unforgettable isn’t just about love. Evil leaves a lasting impression too, maybe more so. Hannibal Lecter, hello?
Your first 10 pages need to introduce an unforgettable character otherwise the reader will jump script, never to return.
One of the go-to tricks often used by writers is to imagine who would play their character in a movie.
You’re casting. Who’s going to land the lead role?
Cast your eye beyond the bright lights of LA too. Flick through social media sites, magazines, photo shoots, head shots of rock bands, choir groups, company personnel or even mugshots.
Look at as many faces as possible and search for the secrets behind the eyes and silence.
8 must-dos in fiction: character creation
1 IDENTIFY STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
No one is perfect. The cause and effect of your character’s behaviour is what truly intrigues the reader.
2 LESS IS MORE
Don’t over-describe your character in the first 10 pages. Hand over some control to the reader.
3 FAIL BETTER
Coined from a Samuel Beckett quote, to “fail better” is how we come back stronger. Allow your character to fail and come back stronger.
4 ALLOW TIME TO SHINE
Don’t overshadow your character with a hectic introduction. Action is good, too much action is chaos.
5 TAKE THE EYE TEST
Look closely at your character. What do you see in their eyes? Anger, hatred, hope and more?
6 RELEASE THE LION
How does your character react in a dangerous situation? Does he save himself or put others first? Whatever the answer, you should know the reason why.
7 KEEP MOVING
Even the laziest character needs to keep moving. If your character doesn’t go anywhere, achieve anything, learn something, your reader will leave them without looking back.
8 INCLUDE BEST-SUPPORTING ROLES
Surround your main character with key characters who deliver an outstanding performance and complement the lead role.