Sunday, October 30, 2011

Memorable Characters

No matter how many stories I read or write, there are characters that never leave my soul. Matter of fact, they sometimes haunt me. I first read Elizabeth Bennet's (yes, another Pride and Prejudice fan) in tenth grade, but I've revisited her often, like twenty plus re-readings and I never miss a movie. The new books carrying her story or her sisters' stories forward and other plot, setting machinations, do not interest me. Other readers, I know, don't care about her so much, but I'm certain they have one character who they always remember or one who plays a part in their imagination, dreams, or subconscious; for many it might be Harry Potter stars in this role.

It's not only good characters, either, for I often find coercive, mean characters, whose behavior I found reprehensible in a story, pop into my mind. Other times a character from an otherwise unremarkable story is so strong they break ground and plant themselves in my imagination.

What is this? Some sort of psychological archetype trick of the mind? If that is the case, I'm sure everyone has different characters hopping around in their cerebral cortex, but isn't it rather interesting who shows up?

The trick, of course, for writers is to make sure those characters don't show up in one of their own books. Which is another interesting phenomenon, because often my book characters show up in my brain long before they do a book.

How about other authors? Do you have similar occurrences?

Legend's Cipher
Short Stories from the Aegis World
Available from Wing's Press


Marja McGraw said...

What a wonderful post. I hadn't thought about it, but there are characters who pop into my mind every once in a while. As you mentioned, fortunately they don't pop up in my books. Thanks for sharing.

Echo said...

For myself, I think the most memorable characters are the ones you tend to despise. Take Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. I could not stand that character; and as a result, the entire book and all it stands for. Hence, it is considered a classic. Wha? That's the way it goes I suppose. At least there's no chance of anyone like him leaking into my stories.

But, to be fair there are some embraceable characters that I've always held in a special place. Atticus Finch is one. Frankenstein's monster is another. Oh, and I always liked Young Hamlet. Great story. I think it's safe to say that a few of my characters are certainly inspired by the ghostly memory of some character that I absorbed long ago in Freshmen lit... I mean, why read if you can't keep a little bit of each story with you. And stories without people in them are just travel brochures.

Happy reading!!

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C.W. Kesting
Author of Envar Island