This is the task Rhobin Courtright has set her group.
Well, what makes a person memorable? After all, character is a person in a book.
The people I remember are those who have had an emotional impact on me, or led me to see the world differently. They are people I admired and chose to copy, and those whose actions made me decide to do the opposite.
We can expand each of these.
We remember people we loved or hated, friends and enemies from the past. So, one way I can get you to remember my character is to make this invented person your beloved friend or hated enemy, at least while you’re reading my story.
I will always remember Mr Kat, a Presbyterian minister, with fondness, because he changed the way I saw myself and my world. He told me he was happy to have me marry in his church, because I was a Buddhist. When I read up on Buddhism, I found he was correct, and this gave my rambling beliefs focus and legitimacy. If one of my characters does the same for you, I know that’s a person who will stay with you for a long time.
There were also people who bullied me, made my life a misery. I don’t hate them anymore — but I used to when I was young. Even though I’ve let go of the emotion, I find that whenever I need a villain in a story, this character is the reflection of a villain from my past. Perhaps the best villain who has come to me, ever, is Moustaf the Areg trader, who features in the Stories of the Ehvelen. And he bears remarkable similarities to my uncle…
Many famous characters jump out at me as role models: From Tolkien’s four books they are Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, but even more Sam, Frodo’s friend and support. They show how to be brave, ingenious and determined.
Photo credit: New Line Cinema
I’d never want to follow Hercule Poirot, but Agatha Christie’s other detective, Jane Marple, is something else. I admire and want to follow her understanding of human nature, her powers of observation, and subtleness of thought.
Of Isaac Asimov’s many characters, I want to copy the inbuilt decency of his robots, for example R. Daneel Oliwaw. OK, these robots were programmed to be decent, but that doesn’t stop them from being good examples to unprogrammed humans.
I’ve deliberately tried to create characters I hope you’ll admire enough to want to copy: Pip in Ascending Spiral, Sylvia in Hit and Run, Gerald, Kirsten, Mick and Maraglindi in Guardian Angel are all people who’d do well as role models for anyone. If you haven’t read these books, it’s not too late! However, I am a lousy businessman. You can find out a considerable amount about them by going to the relevant book page, where I’ve posted extracts for your enjoyment.
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