Why Do Some Characters Stick In Our Hearts And Others Don’t?

Hey everyone! Gumiho here and I’m back after a mini break with another article on writing! Though I admit that it’s not as much as an article as much as an idea-turned into an article.

But lately with NaNoWriMo going on, me playing the new Pokemon, and writing my book, I’ve been really wondering why we attach so hard to some characters and not others. This may be a multi-part topic or so because I think it’s worth talking about from both a writing, video game perspective, and other media if applicable.

First things first, I’d like to bring up the example in the featured pic. If you’re familiar with Pokemon, or internet memes in general, you know who it is: Colress who appears in Pokemon Black and White and their sequels, better known as the guy who always disagrees and whose hair looks like the Internet Explorer logo.

And then there’s this guy~

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Professor Sycamore, who I actually didn’t know who he was until like a few hours ago. But here’s the thing, he’s from Pokemon X and Y. As embarrassing it is to admit, I played both versions of the game, but I had no clue who this guy was until my friend reminded me. And that’s kinda what pushed me to write this topic now. Usually I try to remember every professor name in the games, but this guy was just so forgettable that I was surprised that I didn’t know him.

On the other hand, Colress is kind of a guy that you don’t forget because well, he’s so bizarre looking, but also, he wants something as a character: to bring out the potential in pokemon.

Here’s another case.

sans_sprite.jpg

Another memorable character. Because if you’re familiar with Sans and seen him in action, you know you’re gonna have a bad time. 😉 But even before that, Undertale acquaints you with his other endearing traits such as his laziness and delightfully bad puns.

The way I see this as extending to writing is this, what makes memorable characters memorable is that there is at least one unique trait that draws our attention, a hook trait. One trait that a reader can associate with something familiar right away and pin down in just a few words.

This is what causes us to run into spotlight issues between main characters and minor characters aka the usual “My Minor Characters Outshine My Protagonist” problems. Because in the creating process, minor characters usually start off with one unique trait and then develop over time if they’re used more that once. But writers don’t always do this with their main characters because we get so caught up in building up a hero that we think can go through all the hoops that we’re setting up in the plot. However, while this isn’t “wrong”, it doesn’t always let your main character shine like the big star they’re meant to be, and they might feel a little flat compared to other characters with interesting traits and hobbies.

If you’ve been having that problem, maybe take another look at your manuscript, and see if you can maybe give your MC an interesting trait or a hobby that can distinguish them from others. But here’s the important part…

It’s not enough to just put in a random interesting trait. You’ve got to bolster that quirk or hobby by giving it use in the plot. Let the MC use it to solve problems, let the MC use it on their love interest, etc. Think Harry Potter’s lightning shaped scar; it doesn’t just sit on his head, you know!

But enough yapping from me. Keep at that NaNoWriMo if you’re still at it! Only a few more days and you’re done! 🙂

 

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