The Importance of Strong and Memorable Characters

Over the past month, I have found myself reading more character based novels and all of these character rich novels have been getting me thinking about the importance of memorable and strong characters. By ‘strong’ I don’t mean a character that can fight off an army with their bare hands— no, I mean a character who has morals, beliefs, and flaws, but they grow and learn from these flaws and mistakes. You understand why they do what they do and why they make the mistakes they make and it immerses the reader further into the story, since the reader actually believes the main character is acting in a rational way and it makes characters feel real!

This is important because, like I said, it makes the characters more real and thus makes the reader care more about them. I feel like a lot of recent Young Adult novels are missing these realistic characters meaning that they miss a potential connection with the reader. There haven’t been many memorable characters in recent novels that I’ve read. When I say ‘realistic’ I don’t mean to say that characters have to be the best person and always make the right choices, but when they make wrong choices, the reader should understand why they are making those choices. Will Herondale is a good example of this in The Infernal Devices, while I personally would not like him in real life and he does personally act like a jerk, Cassandra Clare goes out of her way to explain WHY he acts the way he does, this turns him from a one dimensional jerk to a multidimensional relatable character. Nelson from the Unwind series is another great example of this considering he is a crazy antagonist but Neal Shusterman gives him motivation and a background allowing the readers to understand why he is so crazy determined in his evil mission. Both of these examples humanize and give more layers to a character that otherwise could be seen as one dimensional.

Giving characters relatability and motivation is a great way to be sure that readers have someone they are attached to when the climax happens. It can be the difference between the reader being a spectator in the climax and actually feeling like they are a PART of the action. If the reader feels that they are part of the action, they will care more and not want to put the book down throughout the climax.

Do you agree with what I am saying about strong and memorable characters? Who are some of your favorite characters? What books do you think have great characters?

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Meagan!

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