The only difference between authors and the characters they create is that the authors are alive. They create characters so cleverly sometimes, that readers become attracted to them; want more, read everything they can get that concerns them. Authors have been known to create series with followers and fans demanding more.
We all know names of famous characters, whose lives and habits, friends and foes, we understand better than we know our own relatives, sometimes. Sherlock Holmes, Jo Marchant, Miss Marple, Alice, Gandalf, James Bond, Harry Potter... we can even picture them in our mind's eye.
When they create such memorable and imaginable characters, authors are breathing life into what they write: they make it all realistic, even if it is fantasy or science fiction. Their characters eat, sleep, speak, make friends and enemies. They garden, cook, read... and we know exactly how they do it, what they like, what they are ignorant of, how they think.
The best way to make fiction come alive is to give characters senses: smell, touch, sight, hearing and taste. It is even better, however, to give them strong emotions: vehement disgust at something rather ordinary, for example, would be very memorable. A reader can relate to idiosyncrasies because we all have a few of our own. I have created characters who love yellow crockery; who write letters to their dead relatives; who never wear wristwatches; who use only yellow pencils to write with; who avoid their own reflections in shop windows; and who place their books spine-inwards on their shelves. Why?
|Alice in Wonderland|
Next time you are creating the dramatis personae of a new piece of writing, try to work something 'not quite normal' into the make-up of one or two of your characters. You will be breathing life into your fiction, drawing in your readers, who will raise eyebrows at your inventiveness... and remember you for longer.
I like writing about characters in fiction. For more, see a post I wrote in September.