Everyone has their favorite leading characters from movies and books. I know that I seem to gravitate towards strong, no-nonsense, kick butt female leads like Sarah Connor in the Terminator trilogy. These characters make you cheer when they overcome their struggles and obstacles thrown their way. However, some of my favorites may surprise you.
Here are a few of my favorite memorable characters in no particular order:
1. Sarah Connor, Terminator series (movies)
2. Lincoln Rhyme, Jeffrey Deaver series (books)
3. Harry Potter, JK Rowling (books & movies)
4. Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz series (books)
5. Jack Reacher, Lee Child series (books)
6. Miss Marple, Agatha Christie Mysteries (books & movies)
7. Clarice Starling, Silence of the Lambs (book & movie)
8. Lt. Viktor Burakov, Citizen X (movie)
9. Officer John McClane, Die Hard series (movies)
10. Detective Jane Rizzoli, Tess Gerritsen series (books & TV series)
Why do we love these memorable characters? These type of characters seem to stick with us after we finish a great book or watch an exciting movie.
Here’s my big three for what draws me to a particular character:
- Likeability – characters have to be likeable for me, whether they are good or bad by nature or circumstances, there must be something that draws me to them.
- Superhuman Abilities – I’m drawn to a character that does big feats that we can only dream about, breaking the silence, doing what’s right, or even fighting alien monsters.
- Voyeurism Concept – Let’s face it, we love to watch others struggle in their day-to-day life, overcome the odds, and battle bad guys so we can cheer.
As we read or watch a particular story, we want to feel a part of the storyline. We want to feel engaged, interested, and to be able to use our imagination. It’s important to feel or relate to a certain situation that the main character is struggling with during the book or movie. Even if the character is out to save large group of hostages in a Los Angeles high-rise as in the movie Die Hard, we still feel fear, pride, confidence, and want to see the hero prevail.
When I sit down to create a character for my own books, I try to imagine all of the triggers that make you want to read on and cheer for the character to succeed. In my books Compulsion and Dead Game, my heroine Emily Stone was a fun character for me to create as she hunts down serial killers anonymously and then covertly emails the cops the information. I enjoy this character because she’s doing the right thing and she’s also providing assistance to the already overworked police departments. I imagine all of the dangerous and tight predicaments that she might get herself into to find the killer, pedophile, or lost child.
I remember hearing a screenwriter/professor tell his students, “Create characters worth caring about.” I think that has always stuck with me as a writer and movie enthusiast.
Creating characters that are wonderfully flawed, strong, weak, confident, and triumph no matter what, will keep readers and movie-goers coming back for more.
Who are some of your favorite and most memorable characters?
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