Memorable Characters Part III

To really be sure I was making every character memorable, I made a list of all the major characters. Then I went through my manuscript, one character at a time, using the “search” function on my word processor. I looked at each scene with each character and asked a few questions:

  • Is the first introduction of the character clear, distinctive, and memorable?

  • Does the reader spend enough time with the character to solidify the character and make recall easier?

  • How much time passes between each of the character’s scenes? Should the character be mentioned more often?

  • When the character shows up again after a hiatus, is there a clear reference or distinctive feature to remind the reader who the character is?

It’s amazing how going through one character at a time brings a certain clarity and continuity to the story. I realized one or two characters need a couple more scenes and more distinctions. I realized that some characters are hardly in the story at all (including the leader of the invading nation—mentioned 4 times in 65,000 words. I mean, she isn’t the main antagonist of the story, but still—only 4 times?). I also caught a plot point that probably needs to come up more. (EDIT: this was just confirmed by writing group XD )

So, armed with notes, I will now revise again!

P.S. For a really good book on characters, try Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. That is one of my all-time favorite books on writing. It might tie with How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by the same author. While science fiction and fantasy are in the title, it’s actually just a great book on writing.

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