Creative Writing: How to Write a Memorable Character in 5 Steps | Matthew Dewey | Skillshare

Creative Writing: How to Write a Memorable Character in 5 Steps

Matthew Dewey, Writer, Writing Tutor

Creative Writing: How to Write a Memorable Character in 5 Steps

Matthew Dewey, Writer, Writing Tutor

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7 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Introduction to How to Write Memorable Characters

    • 2. Common Failings | | How to Write Memorable Characters

    • 3. Faults and Fears | How to Write Memorable Characters

    • 4. Using Backstory | How to Write Memorable Characters

    • 5. Dark and Shining Moments | How to Write Memorable Characters

    • 6. Character Development | How to Write Memorable Characters

    • 7. Conclusion | How to Write Memorable Characters

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About This Class

Hello Writer!

Welcome to the course where I show you how to write memorable characters!

Don't make the same mistakes that so many novice authors make and create a novel plan that will ensure the quality of your story!

My name is Matthew Dewey and I am a writer. It is hard to say when my passion for writing began, but if I can recall it all started back in primary school. A small child with not much to say, but plenty to write, or in most cases scribble, across a page. From there writing became a hobby, moving on to become a part-time job writing articles on various subjects from technology to programming. Suddenly, the spark was ignited and I wrote my first novel. From there I was hooked onto something that was akin to a calling.

Enough monologue, it is time to tell you what this course is worth to you. 

First, this course was created with the express intention to teach you professional methods for making characters memorable and important to your story. 

I found that information was handed freely, but not with enough dedication and forethought. The advice lacking and the examples poor. I decided to push through and after several years developed my own toolkit that is simple and multipurpose. The first and most important lesson I learned was how not to plan a novel. From there I experimented and found out what you should do.


In addition to the research, I also write from experience, having written several articles on the subject as well.

I will show you how to:

  • How to use character faults to make them interesting and unique

  • How to plan and write a backstory with purpose

  • How to use backstory to make other characters important

  • How high-pressure moments further define your characters

  • How to use character development to make the character perfect for your story

Welcome to your memorable character writing course! I will show what you need to know to develop an interesting character!

Meet Your Teacher

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Matthew Dewey

Writer, Writing Tutor


I have been writing and teaching for years, helping tens-of-thousands of students achieve their goals, be it completing their novel or publishing their work. Having written several novels, non-fiction books, hundreds of short stories and articles, I have studied and put into practice the best methods for writing effectively and efficiently.

In addition to writing, I am also a programmer and artist, teaching what I know on the subject and helping those interested get a headstart.

If you want to write a novel, a story that has been on your mind and not on paper for too long, my courses will not only help you start, but I will be there as well. Any work you submit, I will happily read, review. If you need professional advice or a friendly opinion, I will be there for both.See full profile

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1. Introduction to How to Write Memorable Characters: Memorable characters. The goal of many routers. A memorable character makes for gripping story as you follow them from scene to scene, routine for them or hoping for the downfall. Characters who have such an impact on the reader that every scene is a treat to remember, not just to read whether you are writing Assad character or main character. It doesn't hurt to crop them in such a way that is impossible to forget them. How does a ride to go about doing that? How do you make a character memorable? My name is Matthew doing. I'm a writer and writing coach. One of the many questions I received from my students is how to make a character memorable. For me, this question was a breath of fresh air. Usually erato asked me how to make a character likable, which is one thing but completely different from memorable. You can create a likable character, but there's no guarantee that the reader will lack them. What one reader enjoys the other. Not so bad. To make them memorable. I've collected some expert advice as well as my own professional lessons on the subject and compile them into this course. First, I'll show you what the common mistakes or with a wide range of tips. From day, I'll go on and give you more in-depth lessons and how to make a character memorable. Be it a heroic protagonists, or a monstrous antagonist, or even a plucky, sad character introduced along the way. Whether you seek to make a character memorable for later use or simply want to write a character with impact. This is the course for you. With these lessons, I will not really show you step-by-step how to write a memorable character. Our tissue is fun exercises helping you all the way. Being an active instructor, I have thousands of students view. You can also discuss and exchange ideas with. Be sure to join the discussions if you have any questions as RB, the two happening, answer them. And if you wish it was a review your work and off the map official adverse. I look forward to seeing you in the very first lesson. See you then. 2. Common Failings | | How to Write Memorable Characters: Hello writers and welcome to the first lesson of your course. In this video, I have an array of common failings routers make when trying to make a character memorable, as well as smaller pieces of advice to help him. There are some aspects of rotten a memorable character, too simple to warrant an in-depth discussion. So I've put them in this video to save town. In addition, a videos such as this will help give you a good idea of what it takes to create a memorable character. What to avoid? Think of it like a building, a foundation before you build a house, first, let us establish what kind of memorable character you are no doubt aiming for. You want to create a character that sticks in the reader's mind. Other due to the role in the story or the personality that they bring. Yet you don't want to character to be memorable in a bad way. Your goal is to make a well-written character and be recognized for that, not one that is remembered as annoying or unbelievable. With that said, the first common failing a writer makes is an obnoxious personality without grounds. In order to spice up the story, the router will introduce an egotistical, loud character, will often takes the spotlight to crack a joke or receive attention, but not much more than that. Characters like this lean more towards badly written and memorable. As these routers don't often ground the character was believable traits such as backstory or concrete role in the story. In short, these are characters that simply add variety but nothing else. Here's how to fix such a character. Grounded character in reality by giving them a suitable role. Once that is done, you have given them a purpose in your story. But they still appear obnoxious. No doubt it is because they appear two-dimensional. You then introduced the depth to the character, threw down moments. It could be they are hurt or saddened by a scene, a scene in which their personality won't work. So they change. Suddenly. You have an obnoxious character with a heart. It is when they show their heart, they are more appealing to the reader and less annoying when in doubt, add conflict. A second failing is creating a character to unique in the hopes of making a memorable. I can take the statement and show you clearly why it is failing. If you were to write a book about soldiers dressed in fatigues, carrying firearms, the introduction of a clown wearing plaid California attire and throwing paths at the opposing forces instead of hand grenades. It would make for the most ridiculous book, especially if you're not aiming for ridiculous. The solution is once more a very simple one. Create a character that is unique in small, subtle ways. Make their values, their speech unique, not necessarily their appearance. In addition, don't create a character that contrasts the core elements of your story. Just so they are unique. Such a character only break the illusion that you have created for the reader. It would be like telling a pirate story of a captain and his crew in search of Trisha. But the first mate is a scaling alien named Salman. The third and greatest failing is creating a character that impacts the story in a huge way. Just to make them memorable. It should be noted that most of these failings are due to designing a character to be memorable. Your goal is to create a character for your story to perform a role that is important in your story and have motive to do so. The memorability of your character should be a byproduct, not the product. The solution is to write a character with moto to create an impact in the story. A hero doesn't fight the villain because that's the reason they earn story. They need a reason. To cap this lesson. I would like to talk about a simple but Holloway To make a character memorable. Simply named the book off to them. It could be a once off novel, but it works better if it is a series. Having a name repeated throughout the series is a fantastic way to make Redis, remember the character. Even if the character is not so special. Yet, that is not what this course is about. We are here to write memorable characters, not memorable names. To conclude this first lesson, I'll give you your first exercise. I always tried to make exercise more fun creative writing then serious creative writing. For this exercise, you had to write a paragraph or two, summing up a character that is written with one or more of the failings that I've gone over. It can be a character that you read or simply make upon for this exercise. The purpose of this exercise is to better understand what not to do. So feel free to let your imagination run wild. And if you wish, you can explain why this character is memorable in a bad way. You can submit your example and the answer in the discussions below. I am an active instructors, so I'll be here to review them if you wish. And on that note, it's time to end this lesson. In the next video, we tackle an important sad of memorable characters. They vulnerabilities. Our see you then, bye for now. 3. Faults and Fears | How to Write Memorable Characters: Hello writers and welcome back to your writing cause in this lesson, we'll be going over the faults and fears of your memorable characters. No character will ever be perfect. There are always shortfalls. Well and fears. Your character will make mistakes. They will be bested. And that's important. Here is how to make them memorable. And every great story throughout history, there have been heroes with one or more defining faults which made their journey difficult, all eventually bested him in the end. One particular story highlighted this so much that it spawned its own phrase, Achilles heel. Even a demigod who was made in vulnerable still had a particular weak spot, which proved to be 0s. And doing it can use this to advantage when designing characters. These bolts and fears can be there defining characteristic there, Achilles heel and make a story much more investing. It humanizes the character, makes them more believable and relatable. Often these weaknesses are remembered with the characters. For example, vampires can be stopped with a wooden stake through the heart. But I suppose so it can many other creatures, we're also aren't fans of silver. Superman gets all woozy around kryptonite. And even Voldemort would be powerless before the marty care obeys. What makes these weaknesses so interesting is that they are often exploited or represented throughout the story. A headstrong protagonist who throws himself into danger better than one who cowers at thought. But at the same term, the weakness is they're hard headedness. Without thinking they endangered themselves and those around them, which becomes their prevailing weakness near the end. At the same time, this is a weakness that can be shown throughout the character's personality as well. Perhaps they don't think before they speak and get into trouble that way as well. I'm sure you can think of a few characters like that. These are fantastic examples of how thoughts and fears can make character, but are smaller ones which have the same effect. Average people with average faults can be amazing protagonists in the right story, especially if that weakness becomes a strength. I talked about Greek mythology with Achilles and our du. So again, but this time I want to talk about Medusa. Medusa, and a blind man fell in love. That prevailing weakness is what actually saved the blind man from being turned to stone by Medusa. Your character could face so many obstacles and have more than one handicap, which was served to make the story or the more engrossing. Next, I would like to discuss fears. Often write thriller and horror stories. Work the concept of fear on a daily basis. Not fear derived from being threatened as most people have that. But specific phobias that evoke certain emotions and research different fears and use them to devise my stories and characters. I feel our monster or killer doesn't pose much of a threat to the protagonist. If they don't have any fear to overcome over communist sphere, will make them all the more spatial. You'll find that a lot of Stephen King's work revolves around the same concept of overcoming ones fear. With that said, Fear is a brilliant tool to make use of, even if it doesn't serve such a purpose in your plot. Having characters with different fears only emphasizes there different strengths. I highly recommend that you consider this in an addition to personality faults when creating your character. Finally, how to avoid these pointless details. Now this certainly adds a new dimension to a character and as such, more details are involved. So to cap off this lesson, I want to talk about how you can avoid pointless details. I should cover this point actually at least once in this course. So it's best I get it over with now. Obviously you want to avoid pointless details in your story. You and make a character memorable by including an unnecessary amount of information. A reader doesn't need to know characters birthday. If it doesn't lead to something in your story, it doesn't need to be plots sensitive. If this detail adds to the story through character development or setting up a scene, that's all well and good. If you find that a character detail doesn't even do that, then it is merely a parsing fact. Small Talk in the dialogue or in the narration. And that detail is best left admitted. I don't want you to think this is a heavier restriction on your writing either. But bugging your reader down in interesting but unnecessary information, or only served to break pacing. For example, law talks about the color of a character shoes. If it has nothing to do with anything. You wouldn't write pointless details such as this for your character's appearance. And you would make the same mistake when constructing a personality. Or characters have faults necessary for the story, but not all of them have fears that are integral to the plot. So don't feel pressured to give them one if there is no need. I merely bring up fears as it is an important feature, I can go a long way towards making the character memorable, but there are other ways you can make them memorable, and I will be discussing them in future videos. Remember this and your character will be believable, understandable. And perhaps if you meet all the requirements memorable to having reached the end of this lesson, I'll leave you with this exercise. Now, you don't need to do these exercises, but if you want to take full advantage of this course, I recommend you give them a shot and share them in the discussions. You are to write a brief paragraph explaining a character's defining fault and how it affects them throughout the story. Much like the example are made with a hot-headed protagonist. It can be a character you created or character from a story you read. In which case, provide an observation on this character. They are defining fault. And if they ever came up with that, I'll see you in the next video where our cover writing a believable backstory, one that resonates with the reader. I will see you then. Bye for now. 4. Using Backstory | How to Write Memorable Characters: Hello and welcome back to your writing course. In this lesson, we'll be going over how to construct and write a backstory that helps make the character memorable. Most characters you will rot. We'll have the sum defining history that places them within the plot, your writing. It could be the reason they take a certain side. That could be a reason they are important in the first place. That is the key word that we are aiming to establish when writing a backstory. While every character has a backstory, not all of them are particularly interesting. Let's learn a potent to the main story. In such cases you weren't talking about their backstory much, if at all. Instead, you run with the character from the moment they appear. However, that's not what this lesson is about. A character does have a backstory and we are going to write it in such a way to emphasize their importance and make the character memorable. There are two methods which are personally use to create a memorable backstory. The first and easiest is to create a shared backstory. I take a Standard Character which is already established in the story. There can be a major character, they can be assigned character. But at a certain point in the story, they are now well-known and important. And then talk about their backstory. Not to further define them as a character, but to define someone else and make them stand out a little more. The best way to describe this is through examples. So I'll create an example now. A detective and a rookie cop are discussing a veteran cup. The detective shows power, intelligence, and commands respect. And as such, has the reader's attention more than the other characters. All well and good. But the rookie and a detective, or discussing the veteran cop, who at this point appears less than important to the reader. Or the rookie cops speaks disrespectfully of the veteran, which the reader doesn't mind or actually agrees with. The detector, goes on to tell a story of how that veteran cup inspired the detective to take up and law enforcement, perhaps the veteran cop saved someone important to do detector or save the detective themselves. At this point, many important links are established. The detectives history is further defined, but more importantly, an aspect of the veteran cups character is revealed by association through a shared backstory. The vection COP is no longer a simple side character that now holds more importance. Yet, if that cop had simply saved someone else, it wouldn't be a shared backstory as that someone else isn't important to the story. Leaving no link for the veteran cop to the main story. It is because of the shape backstory that the veteran cop holds more importance in the reader's mind, instantly making them more memorable. Now there won't be as memorable as an iconic figure, but certainly this characters now earned a greater place in the reader's memory. The second method I use is a pre-introduction backstory. I establish the backstory before I introduce the character. Instead of putting pressure on a character to be important and memorable, put pressure on a backstory and have the character be a part of it before the introduction. It's an excellent way to build up to a character, especially if the backstory is associated with a plot in some way. For example, the backstory can be much like the shared backstory I discussed before. So let's take that previous example and adjusted. The characters. Talk about the veteran cop before the election cup is introduced in the story. This combines both methods of a pre-introduction and a shared backstory. But let's cut those links. Let's no longer make it a shared backstory and just make it a pre-introduction. A good back story presented before the character helps the reader to understand who is about to be introduced. Thus, the reader nerds their personality, their history a bit better. And that police station example, I could have the detective telling the story of veteran cop to the rookie. The veteran cop who constantly risked their lives to save others, becoming a real hero in the station. Then introduce the veteran cup with a predetermined since of who they are before they are presented in the present context. Take any historical hero or villain that you know, and imagine if you had the chance to meet them already, you have a predetermined idea of who they are and how they might act, whether they are, as you expect or not, they appear more memorable. That's why and how you can use backstory to emphasize importance to the plot or unique qualities and history behind a character. If you take Sauron from Lord of the Rings, a character that is not presented in the series is a physical being in the present context at all. You will see this method is used. The backstory behind sorrow and alone makes the figure such a memorable antagonist. Despite never really been in the spotlight with the protagonists. But that this lesson has come to an end. There is no exercise for this lesson, but I do recommend that you keep back story in mind when constructing your memorable character and helps to create impact and do this through major important acts. What makes us character special? What did they overcome, that they succeed? Would did they fail? All excellent questions to test your backstory. In the next lesson, we'll be discussing the scenes and moments your character has vowed to story good and bad. I'll see you then. Bye for now. 5. Dark and Shining Moments | How to Write Memorable Characters: Hello and welcome back to your writing course. In this lesson, I'll be going over how you can make your characters more memorable to the shining moments and their tragic moments. There will always be ups and downs moments where character skills are the most useful. And Tom's when they are, weaknesses are the most detrimental. These are the interesting moments that further define a character, but in a memorable way. But we are trying to establish here is how your character acts when everything is going away and when everything is against them. If everything's going well, do they grow and eager? Do they get cocky and make mistakes? Do they maintain a level of confidence? By the same token, when they on the downhill, do they lose hope? Do they lose their cool persist? Or do they meet failure with this much level headedness as they meet success? I don't want to make this section purely about fat scenes, but they are certainly worth a mention in physical conflict, especially one that could lead towards someones demise. The attitude and actions of your character can set them apart from the wrist. When placed under such extremes, press attention starts to build, especially if there is no clear victim. It goes a step further. If the conflict leads to an ultimatum, we're all choices are less than desired. The actions of your character, the decisions they make, and the scenes such as this, further define who they are morally. You have heard of the trolley dilemma. The dilemma presents two choices. Both don't sit well with the one that's being questioned. The dilemma is as follows. A trolley would train is moving down the track towards five people. However, you can switch the tracks so that the trolley goes down at different rail, hits one person instead of five. Your choices are to do nothing. And thus the file will be hit by the train or switch the tracks, leading to the demands of only one. A true low point for any protagonist. It is decisions like these that will set them out, is memorable characters. I should say that in addition to the trolley dilemma, there is a version was the third choice. The train will stop when it hits something. So the third choice is to sacrifice oneself and save or six, you are tied to the tracks. Often a typical protagonists to choose this option, especially if it's for someone they care about. Already. You no doubt thinking of characters you have read which had been placed in very similar situations. They are forced into an ultimatum such as the trolley dilemma, or have been on a downhill hot wires and other caved to the pressure or rose from the ashes part in the mix of metaphors. It, as I stated before, I don't want this video to be purely about fat scenes, but they certainly help when creating a picture. The same scenarios can be presented through conversations and dialogue. Perhaps through the actions of the antagonist. Nobody's life is at risk, yet the decisions have to be made. Resolve is always tests. And the true nature of the character is presented at the end of the scene. Sometimes it goes exactly as you expect. Other terms, a character makes a decision that damages your opinion of them. I want you to consider this when writing your character. Presenting them with decisions. Placing them in high pressure situations are excellent ways of testing their character and forcing him to decide the flow of the story. In addition to this point, make these moments crucial for the reader as well. Raise the stakes. Let the decision of the character decide if the reader lags or this lacks the character. In other words, impact the story with moments like these, where they'd be a shiny moment or tragic moment, make it memorable. That is the purpose of this discussion. To make a memorable character. You can write a brilliant character, but if it's smooth sailing throughout the story, if the character is not tested, if they do not have such an effect on the story, then they appear less important and as such, less memorable. That concludes this lesson and after the exercise, in order to practice developing such scenes, you or to write a short summary encapsulating such an impactful scene and the decision the character makes. As always, you can take it upon yourself to create one from imagination, which are wholly encourage. You can also make summary of such a scene and impacting decision from another work you have enjoyed beer from a book or movie. I look forward to seeing your observations and creations. And the final lesson, we'll go over my favorite discussion when it comes to writing a memorable character, the character development. I'll see you then. Bye for now. 6. Character Development | How to Write Memorable Characters: Hello and welcome to your writing course. For this final lesson, we'll be discussing character development. One of the most fundamental aspects of writing stories and characters is character development. The way they change as the story progresses can make character not only memorable, that Beloved. I saved this listen for last as it is the most important one to lead up to. Stories of heroes and villains are greatest heroes and villains grew to be memorable through their development as characters. Heroes typically started out as naive protagonists or with an assortment of issues that affected their personality or even their health in a bad way. Many great characters have fallen victim to these faults, which is not a bad thing initially, but once it takes them down a dark erode the characters and of early relatable, but even pitied by the reader. As the story develops the character combats these issues. It's not always a clear lesson. Sometimes simply being made aware of the problem they have is the solution. The character overcomes their bad traits. Typically they overcome the issues before the climax. That is standard hero development that it has worked in stories every way. Characters start small and then making it big, encountering and overcoming challenges all the way, not necessarily physical ones. Yet, there is a heritage villain and volunteer hero development which serves to make for memorable characters as well. To put it simply, these are characters who take a path different to one they started with. Are they a hero who appears pure and righteous, takes a darker turn and slips. The characters so cemented in the belief that they are good and rot is blind to their actions and death to the words and the way of the radical shift, they becomes a villain in the story and in a tremendous often shocking way. The heroes that are aware of the change usually fall victim to some sort of emotion. The hero becomes a villain because of greed or calendars or lust for power or love. These characters can make a last minute change to save themselves from sardine of the wrong side. But often they fall, no matter what it is then their choice to fall a hero or villain. A classic example of hair to villain is Macbeth, from Shakespeare's play of the same name. Macbeth plays the role of a tragic hero. A hero who takes a dark turn and it ultimately leads to the downfall. All this perfectly describes the phrase you either die hero or lived long enough to become a villain. The inverse of this is also true, which leads to memorable characters on the other side of the spectrum. Islands becoming heroes are there due to growth in character. The rectifying, the more compass as the weight of their actions weighs heavier and heavier on them. Or perhaps someone on the side of right convinces them to change. Sans or a fellow villain does something that doesn't sit well with the character and they abandon the antagonist, Assad. Popular villain to hero. Changes include the beast from Beauty and the Beast, Darth Vader from Star Wars and even the terminator. Now you don't necessarily need to write a complete change a character to make the character memorable. Simple character development goes a long way from the subtle changes in character based on the lessons learned from the scenes earlier. Personally, I've found character development is essential for every story. Stories should be of progress, of change, events leading characters from beginning to end. I've often talked about development a lot more in depth, but that would be an entire course on its own. For now, I feel it's best that I'll leave it at this. Character development is a priority. That brings us to the end of this course. In the next video, I'll talk about what we covered and way to go from here. What's next to study or look into in regards to writing a story. I'll see you then. Thank you for watching and bye for now. 7. Conclusion | How to Write Memorable Characters: Hello and congratulations, having reached the end of this course, you have learned professional methods for routing memorable characters. Yes, Mirabeau characters, a goal for many writers to write a character which not only makes his story enjoyable through their actions and personality, through the role that they play. But you have a lasting effect on the reader as well. Be it through the trials, their accomplishments, or the emotions they evoke in the reader. With all that you have learned in honor that there is more than rotting a memorable character, simply making a unique character. From their character thoughts to the back story, to the character development. Any character can be made memorable. I hope you enjoyed this course and I look forward to reading some of your work. I am an active instructors, so I'm always yet provide no professional help. Should you require, in addition, a host of variety of writing courses to help you write certain characters, certain genres, and how to plan and finish the novel as fast as possible. If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask in the discussions blurb. In addition to all this, I'm a website. You can find more bonus content and information to help you on your writing journey at the pinned But sad said, be sure to check out my profile and follow as well as I will be releasing future courses on rotting. But that our in this farewell, good day. Cannot and happy writing.