Nothing makes me put down a book faster than card-board characters. If they're so normal or so cliche, how can I care what happens to them. Characters makes a story memorable. So how does a writer give their hero or heroine depth?
A hero can't be all-knowing or all powerful. They must have vulnerabilities and often that weakness is their secret. Perhaps only one other character, perhaps the antagonist, knows this secret allowing for all kinds of difficulties. That secret could be a past sin or shame, something that makes the hero sad, frightened or embarrassed. This secret can drive the character toward some goal or provide the motivation for his actions.
As the character takes action towards his goal, the more specific the goal the better, his secret will color his choices, his relationships and slowly reveal his weakness. And what better way to hone the character but to put his tight spots. He'll reveal himself through how he acts when he's desperate. Frustration will show his character so keep the pressure turned on high.
Some characters earn a reader's interest by their quirkiness or contradictions. Can they be cruel and funny? Can they be shy but also rude?
In my new release, Beyond the Gate, Book #2 in The Futhark Chronicles, Cage's secret is revealed to all though he doesn't realize those who love him understand his vulnerability. Cage's birth mother abandoned him when he was a child. He believed he's unlovable and constantly risks his life in an attempt to be earn that which he secretly thinks is unattainable.
Reviews for the first book in this series, The Keepers of Sulbreth, have the highest praise for my characters. I hope you'll try them out.
What character have you read that you find unforgettable? What made that person do memorable?