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Vivid Characters Are Essential in a Memoir

Why Creating Vivid Characters is Essential

The people in your story are your characters. It is your task as memoir writer to bring vivid characters to the attention of your readers. You must use descriptive writing to present believable characters. Without other people, our lives and memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding. We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are the questions we want answered. To write a strong story, capitalize on this interest.

In memoir writing, you create a strong, vivid character by describing him or her in sensual details. (The senses, of course, are: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.) The most effective descriptions of people make use of these.

Sense details make for vivid characters.

1. Taste

Let the reader sample foods associated with your past or with the person you are writing about. Perhaps a food image or a metaphor will give a deeper sense of the person’s personality.

Many people mistakenly believe that vivid characters in a story have to be well-known to be interesting. When they write their stories, they search their pasts for when they might have crossed paths with the famous. Consequently, they write about when they were in the same elevator with some luminary back in 1948. This is not necessarily something that will make your story interesting. A representation of vivid characters is more likely to entice your reader.

2. Sight

What did the person you are writing about look like? Describe height, weight, color, shape, posture, mannerisms, contours of the face, prominent features. How did that person move, talk, walk, sit? Describe the person’s clothing, sense of style, hairstyles. In what ways did that person typically express emotion with body posture?

3. Sound

This includes voice modulation, timbre, and pitch as well as favorite expressions, accents, dialectical usage. Don’t forget throat clearing, foot scraping, or the knocking of a wedding ring against glass as a hand cleared frost from a windshield.

4. Smell

Your text should make references to perfumes, colognes, pipe tobacco, barn odors, the scent of a kitchen, the aroma of a bath, or the smell of a workshop. Smell is one of the most evocative senses. A particular herb or soap or cleaning fluid can immediately return us to another time and place. Be sure to use that power in your descriptions of vivid characters.

5. Touch

Help the reader feel how rough your character’s skin was, or how smooth the clothing, how gentle the hands, or how furtive the caress. Your reader will think “vivid characters!”

You can write vivid characters!

Follow the suggestions above and see how much the people in your memoir will be realistic characters instead of “stick” characters.

Good luck with your memoir writing!

Give Your Memoir an Advantage! Click here to learn how to Develop Vivid Characters

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3 Responses to Vivid Characters Are Essential in a Memoir

  1. Thanks for the listing. I appreciate it. Denis Ledoux

  2. Bonnie Bell at #

    I appreciate your practical approach to memoir writing. How can I receive your blog?

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