Another excellent craft essay from The Missouri Review: “Writing Beyond Good: Crafting Memorable Characters” by Q Lindsey Barrett.
All of QLB’s tips, tricks, and examples are helpful toward creating strong, memorable characters (and added to my list of required reading!), but here are my three favorites:
Create a Character Journal:
“Tap into your character’s desire by creating a specific journal for each character to complement the ‘people journal’ mentioned above. Record the rituals, habits and values of each major character. Write down their biographies and backstories to use in writing your novel or memoir—again, not to itemize in the manuscript, but to inform your writing.”
Selective character description:
“It is thus with most of us; we are what other people say we are. We know ourselves chiefly by hearsay.” -Eric Hoffer
Use character traits to create narrative tension:
“Narrative tension is created in Salieri’s bit of dialogue
[All I ever wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing.
And then made me mute. Why? Tell me that.]
by starting with what the character wants and setting about thwarting him. Examine your work to insure you’ve created narrative tension (and not just plot tension).”
by Debbie VanceTags: Quotes, Writing Tips