What Makes a Memorable Character? this is Rhobin’s December question.
Who are your memorable characters? This, for a person like me who cannot remember names, is a very difficult one to answer. I had hoped to start my post with a quick-fire list of the fictional characters who’ve stayed with me, but I’m going to have to look up some of the names. That makes me wonder whether it’s the character I remember or the characteristics. Rolling it all up, characteristics make the memorableness – is that a word? Spell checker doesn’t like it much.
So, the list:
Robin Hood, Anne of Green Gables, Scarlett O’Hara, the Snow Queen, The Saint, James Bond, Karen Brockman and anyone from the cast of NCIS.
These people exemplify the cloyingly good, the selfishly or evilly bad and the delightful mixture that stops you pigeon-holing them.
Robin Hood was on tv on a Thursday afternoon during my childhood. His adventures were unmissable and, as we had a bit of woodland behind the house, we could pretend. Sheer escapism as one learned later. Why wasn’t Richard back in England running his own country instead of despoiling someone else’s? I still have a faint scar on my thigh from crawling through long grass stalking something or other and crawling over a bit of glass!
Anne of Green Gables
It’s hard to find any reading lady of a certain age who doesn’t claim Anne as her favourite childhood book. She had red hair and a lively imagination – what wasn’t to like? Certainly her feistiness stayed with me over the years.
Scarlett O’Hara –
Now, here we begin to have memorable characters who aren’t by any means role models or even likeable. She did, however, do her best in appalling circumstances and one admired – until the child died. I suppose there’re lots of ways of interpreting Mitchell’s intentions, but setting aside the ‘bad girls must be punished in the end’ philosophy, I cannot love a character whose selfishness endangered her children.
The Snow Queen
The Snow Queen kept me awake as a child. It was my first encounter with the power of evil and a much more realistic characterisation than the wicked step-mothers that panto reduced to – well, panto.
The Saint and James Bond I’ve mentioned before that I wrote a major sixth form essay on the anti-hero. These are the chaps to blame for that fascination: or maybe it was just Roger Moore’s raised eyebrow? I notice my own heroes often raise an eyebrow, too.
Karen Brockman, and I did have to look up the name, is the youngest child in the sit-com Outnumbered. The episodes were not scripted, but suggested to the child actors and Karen had some wonderfully effective scenes. Played by Ramona Marquez, the character could turn any expectation on its head. The character is a wonderful example of the self-absorbed and the mayhem that trait can wreak.
NCIS I loved the original series and many of the subsequent ones. Changes in the ensemble cast lost Cate, Jenny and Mike Franks. Again blatant escapism with larger than real-life characterisation and super-complicated plotting. I no longer watch as I find some of the chemistry gone and some of the plotting improbable to a degree.
So what memorable traits have I given my characters? I would say Mariah is determined. Bella is courageous. Daisy is self-aware, but it’s hard won. Melissa is brave in the face of enormous adversity. The character I’m writing at present will also need dollops of courage to get over her conservatism. Or, as we say now, leave her comfort zone.
To find out what my fellow authors think of this topic, go here:
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-18Y
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Anne Stenhouse https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Off the top of my head my most memorables would be Darrell Rivers in Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers school stories, Jo March in Little Women and Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. All feisty feminists in their day and way. Don’t know what that says about me 🙂
Hi Anne, I don’t think I read any Enid Blyton – or maybe it’s just my inability to remember titles and names. Big fan of Jo March and scared by Lisbeth Solander. Anne
Memorable characters for me (although I list a few in my post these are different):
The girl from The Island of the Blue Dolphins. This was one of my favorite books as a child, and I imagined myself being as brave, strange, and ingenious as this young girl.
Mary Poppins. What’s not to love about Mary?
Jo March in Little Women.
Princess Leia–she was bad ass.
These are only a few and all of them date me. LOL
Hi Marci, I see Jo March is in there again. Anne
I, too, have a hard time with names, but knew most of the characters you mentioned except the one from Outnumbered. I am a fan of the NCIS team, and have the same reaction. Didn’t know Outnumbered, but it is British TV so unfamiliar here in Michigan. Went on Netflix, but they don’t have it, so I’m watching Midsomer Murders… again.
Hi Rhobin, I think Outnumbered was a slightly cult show late on a Friday night. Nothing wrong with watching Midsomer again. John Nettles is pretty amazing. Anne
The word you were looking for is “memorability.”
Hi Bob, thank you, Anne
I think what attracted me to Robin Hood was that he was a man dedicated to righting wrongs and helping those less fortunate. As a child I wanted to run away with his merry band and help.
Hullo Skye, Absolutely. It was romantic in that Daphne du Maurier story-telling way. In real life, I hate camping… Anne
Interesting post. I enjoyed your list of memorable characters. I’d forgotten Lisbeth Salander, definitely memorable.
Hi Beverley, Thanks for dropping by. It’s been another great way to hear so many different views from contributors, Anne
Agree with you (of course!) about Anne of Green Gables. Would add Jo in Little Women and Scarlett O Hara.
Hi Kate, Yes, Jo and Scarlett come up a lot. Maybe we need to study the texts a bit? Anne
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Robin Hood! Gotta just give a shout about the good bandit, lol. I used to dress up and pretend to be a “merry girl?” But underneath all that escapism was the love that a man, any man, would stand up against what is clearly wrong, no matter what it cost him.
Hi AJ, Yes, the political message was hidden from us when childlike, but later it does make you think. thanks for dropping by, Anne