What makes a strong, memorable character?

katniss

Just finished reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I read them back to back. It was intense! The Hunger Games series is a lot of things- intelligent, original, imaginative, thought provoking, philosophical.
And the character development is amazing.

The main character, she’s iconic. Katniss Everdeen, she’s unforgettable. She’s a very real character- so real that sometimes I didn’t even like her.  At one point towards the end of Mockingjay she did something that actually made me hate her. I don’t remember this ever happening before- me being that angry and disappointed in a character.  But the anger ended up being very short lived because within a few pages something unexpected happened and she completely surprised me! I was so proud of her for the courage and intelligence she showed.

I kept having to remind myself that she isn’t real.

After I finished the book I just kind of sat there. With my thoughts. At some point I started thinking about how much I love strong, female lead characters. And that reminded me of something I spontaneously wrote in a journal several months ago. At the time it seemed like a very random thing to have the urge to write about, but it makes more sense now. Here is what I wrote:

What makes a strong, memorable character in a novel? 100_5902

Flaws.

The character must have flaws and make mistakes. A character without flaws is too perfect and boring. A character without flaws doesn’t seem real, and readers will not be able to relate to her or admire her. They will not miss her when she’s gone.
A strong, memorable character is not necessarily well liked- she may not always be a nice or good person
. You may hate her at times, shake your head at her, laugh at her (or with her), cry with her, and root for her.
She experiences and expresses an entire range of emotions. Sometimes she’s up, sometimes she’s down.
Sometimes she is courageous and triumphant, sometimes she’s just too weary and running low on hope. You may not understand her or always agree with what she does, but sometimes you will. Probably more often than not.
And even though the character may be spiteful, immature, selfish, or wicked- you may find yourself admiring her courage and strength. Perhaps you respect her even if you don’t agree with her.
She makes mistakes but she learns from them.
And she does have her redeeming qualities as well.
Perhaps she is
the leader of her family. Perhaps the protector of someone or some thing. She is brave and intelligent, generous, and sometimes vulnerable. She may be making the best of a difficult or tragic situation.
In other words- She’s human. She is fallible and you can relate to her. She is memorable and real, and you miss her when she’s gone.

100_5900

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3 thoughts on “What makes a strong, memorable character?

    • Sounds interesting, I’ll have to check that out. At the top of my list for strong but not well liked characters is Scarlett O’Hara! She’s obviously pretty selfish in the movie but she’s even worse in the novel.

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