Monday, October 12, 2009

What Makes A Memorable Character?

I AM ON TIME.  The question for this week is: what makes a memorable character?  Or alternatively, what makes a character memorable FOR YOU?  Because we all have different tastes, after all.  This would be a good time to go ahead and admit that while I did enjoy Pride and Prejudice, it was not one of my favorite! books! ever!  Some people (some of my friends, in fact) have an unhealthy obsession with this book--namely, with Mr. Darcy.  I mean, sure Mr. Darcy is cool and all, but he's kind of the typical douche/bad guy (interchangeable in some situations, but I'd go with the first for P&P) who changes for the girl because he loves her. Boring.  Lame.  Misleading to girls in real life.  The only reason I like Mr. Darcy is because he's portrayed by Colin Firth, and let's just be honest here: that's an objective kind of hot.

So, I'm going to go over MY criteria for what makes characters memorable for me. 

NOTE: This really applies to what I think makes a memorable hero (villains are a whole 'nother ball game that maybe we can handle in another week).

1) I'm a bit on the fence about complaints.  I don't like whiny emo people (exhibit A: Harry Potter in Book 5).  If you're going to be whiny, at least have a sense of humor about it.  If you're going to be whiny and not be funny, then you are no longer memorable to me.  In fact, I don't even know if I'm going to finish reading your story, dear MC.  I finished HP5 barely, because I had already invested 1000+ pages of love in Mr. Potter, and if he was going to have his hormonal cry-fest in one book, well, then I could deal with that.  

2) Be a person of action.  Don't let action happen to you.  You are the hero!  Do something, go somewhere, kick some ass.  Because if you're not, then maybe you should switch places with your sidekick and save us all the trouble of suffering through x-pages of watching you get your backside slapped around by circumstances out of your control.  Nobody wants a weak hero. You're not even real, so do something that will impress me and make me remember you.  Do something that nobody else would do.  

3) Really noble people.  I will admit, this is blatantly something that applies directly to me.  It is entirely possible that you like heroes who run in shades of gray (which is fine; I like them too, but not so much as the noble ones).  I find that I particularly like heroes who are always striving to do the good.  Who are rarely conflicted by TEH EVIL even if it threatens to win overwhelmingly.  Who doesn't like a good stalwart underdog?  My theory as to why I prefer noble heroes is that the world needs noble heroes, and they always seem to be the ones people admire the most, you know?  It takes a lot to be so committed to the light.  

So there it is.  Here are some of my favorite heroes, in no particular order:

1) Harry Potter
2) Ella (Ella Enchanted)
3) Scarlett O'Hara
4) Percy Jackson
5) Coraline (Coraline)
6) Esperanza (Esperanza Rising)

Hmmm.  It occurs to me that I should read more books with male protagonists.  I will work on that.


  1. I've been on the fence for a while, but your Percy Jackson love has me itching to read the series.

    My most recent "unforgettable character" has to be Temeraire. (His Majesty's Dragon series) They read a little dryly like an O'Brian Aubry/Maturin novel, but I love them.

  2. Tere- You should definitely read it. As you can see, I dedicate half of my time to writing fan fiction for PJO. Even though I have several novel projects boiling at the time, fan fiction seems to be a habit I have yet to kick. :-)

  3. Ooh, I love Scarlett O'Hara! She's one of my all-time favorite characters.

  4. Your thoughts on whiny characters cracks me up. I'm not sure why. *giggles* So I'm guessing you didn't love Bella in New Moon or Eoyore in Winnie the Pooh.

  5. LiLa - Everyone loves Scarlett! She's the best.

    Sarah - I HATE BELLA. I think she is the one character that is universally hated in the world. Even people who adore Twilight (and I liked Twilight enough) hate her.

  6. Scarlett is so awesome! Love her! And yes: Percy is the awesomest. So is Annabeth! :)
    The thing about Mr. Darcy is he's like the ORIGINAL bad guy who changes for a girl b/c he loves her---or did he change that much at all? Was he just shy? Or WAS he proud? And would you consider that a vault or a virtue? (and btw i loved the version with Keira Knightly and Matthew McFayden) ;)
    Another hero I really love is Mr. Knightly from Emma. And Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibilty... XD I'll stop now.