Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Creating Memorable Characters

Do you know who this character is and what book made her famous?

"Of course, she knew that married people occupied the same bed but she had never given the matter a thought before. It seemed very natural in the case of her mother and father, but she had never applied it to herself. Now for the first time since the barbecue she realized just what she had brought on herself. The thought of this strange boy who she really hadn’t wanted to marry getting into bed with her when her heart was breaking with an agony of regret at her hasty action and the anguish of losing ____ forever, was too much to be borne. As he hesitatingly approached the bed she spoke in a hoarse whisper.

“I’ll scream out loud if you come near me. I will! I will—at the top of my voice! Get away from me! Don’t you dare touch me!”

                                                               *************

In preparation for my class at Central Piedmont Community College on "Crafting Characters that Connect," I wanted to find an example of a memorable character. I leafed through the books on my daughters' shelves and finally decided on this selection.

Reading through these two short paragraphs, what do you learn about this character FAST- about her feelings, actions, speech, or thoughts?

As a reader, you are privy to her thoughts and can hear her naive beliefs about sex and marriage; this may make you wonder what time period is depicted. The author also informs you that this character is prone to impulsive actions--even to the point of marrying someone she doesn't truly love. Her obvious discomfort during her wedding night is emphasizied in five short, belligerent lines of speech. 

In less than 150 words a famous author artfully shows us a woman who finds herself in a difficult position and handles it by refusing her new husband.

Internal conflict precipitates external conflict. Delicious conflict that hooks the reader, leaving you wanting more.

Memorable characters keep readers turning the page. Creating them is the goal of every writer. If you are a new or established writer looking for ways to create your own unforgettable characters, I hope you'll consider joining my CPCC class which begins on June 16. You'll write, do lots of fun exercises, and learn how to wiki--all within the space of six lessons.  

Now, back to our mystery post. If you insert "Ashley" in the blank above, then you know that the infamous character depicted above is none other than,

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara

If you guessed Gone With the Wind you were right!


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4 comments:

CL said...

Fun excerpt! Great post, thanks.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Constance. I LOL when I found it!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Good workshop lesson, Carol! Best wishes with your summer class.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Clara. I think this would be a great mini-activity in a writing workshop. Read a passage from a famous novel and then figure out who it is and what was so memorable about the author's description. Thanks for stopping by.