Standing the test of time

booksI ended yesterday’s post by saying I’d share a few opinions on memorable literary characters today. You don’t have to go far to find lasting characters on bookshelves. There are imaginary creations that were given flesh and form and id and ego in such perfect measure that even mentioning their names often brings to mind a particular personality trait. Test for yourself. This list contains characters most people know at a glance. All come from literature. I’m guessing even if you have yet to read the books, you’ll know the stories they’re tied to. First thing in the morning, this lot is all I could come up with. (Need more coffee for larger lists…)

Sherlock Holmes
Harry Potter
Professor Moriarty
Mr. Darcy
Henry “Indiana” Jones
Hester Prynne
Jane Eyre
James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser
Severus Snape
James Bond
Vito Corleone
Captain Ahab
Forrest Gump
Scarlett O’Hara
George Bailey
Phileas Fogg
Philip Marlowe
Robin Hood
Atticus Finch
Jean Valjean
Holden Caulfield

What makes a literary character memorable? It’s all in the recipe!

For me the reader, the memorable characters as the ones written with facets of complex human  personality. You and I have particular personalities and they are literally the sum of our life interactions and experiences had in the environments at hand at the time. Think about the people you know. Aren’t the ones with the fullest lives the ones you could sit and listen to for hours?

Imaginary people rely on their writers to put the skin on their bones and the thoughts in their heads.  To do that, the writer must draw from the world within and without. To this I’ll add that every single literary character I’ve written has slivers of my own id and ego in them. Even my bad guys.  😉 

Characters, even if they’re the villains in the story, all need to show relatable aspects to readers. Aspects such as opinion, empathy, fear, bravery, compassion, greed, outrage, love, lust, and a host of other elements, must combine and strike a believable chord for the reader, even if the character exists in a fantastical tale. This is how Shakespeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jane Austen all created timeless characters despite hundreds of years separating the writing and the stories’ time periods. These three authors in particular have had their works made into hundreds of variations on a theme. Take their characters out of their time periods, change their clothes and modernize their environment,  then plop them down into yours and voila! They fit. Centuries may pass, but the human condition stays the same. A marvelous example of this is the modernization of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in the contemporary BBC series Sherlock.

Relatable. That’s the key.

To make a character that stands the test of time is no small feat.  Only time will tell if I manage it.

Tomorrow ~ Fun Day Sunday.



For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Clichés.
There are 44 entries to come.

Here’s a cliché for today:

A pinch of this, a pinch of that.


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Romance Books ‘4’ Us ~ The September contest is on, this time two winners!


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I’m participating in Fall Into Romance — a month-long event hosted by The Romance Reviews. Hundreds of authors and industry people are participating and that means hundreds of prizes. Find my bit on my satellite blog:


Saturday & Sunday Happenings on my other blogs

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Seductive Studs and Sirens & Weekend Writing Warriors

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About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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