How to be an interesting character
By Morgan on May 17th, 2012
Last week I came across this infographic from Forbes, How To Be More Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps). It’s great advice for anyone — go exploring. Embrace your innate weirdness. Have a cause. And I thought — this is all true for people, so it must be true for literary characters, too.
So I’ve matched up each step with an example of a fictional character who meets the criteria. Take a look:
1. Go exploring. Amy and Dan Cahill explored the world looking for their family’s secrets, and their stories, told through The 39 Clues, are the types of stories they’ll be able to tell their grandkids. Don’t you want something cool to tell your grandkids, too?
2. Share what you discover. Everyone loves a good storyteller, and everyone wants to be part of the action. In Dear Dumb Diary, Jamie Kelly shares everything about her day. And we’re better off for it!
3. Do something. Anything. Fall in love with dance, like Jessi Ramsay in The Baby-sitters Club. Learn how to ride horses, like the girls of Canterbury Crest. Take up baking, like Alice in Pie. Picking up hobbies makes you interesting!
4. Embrace your innate weirdness. Everybody’s weird. There, I said it. So why not give up the ghost and embrace your particular type of weirdness? One could argue that being a wizard is weird…but we all know of a little boy wizard who learned to embrace that part of himself which, in turn, made him the hero he turned out to be.
5. Have a cause. Speaking of Harry Potter, remember Hermione’s campaign to free house elves? Having a cause like S.P.E.W. to champion helped her realize what was important to her and develop her character. It also helped her stand out from the crowd.
6. Minimize the swagger. There’s a fine line between talking about your adventures and bragging about them. Katniss Everdeen is interesting for a lot of reasons, but she’s appealing because she doesn’t even realize how interesting she is.
7. Give it a shot. People who try new things tend to be more interesting than those who don’t. What would have happened if Lucy hadn’t looked inside that wardrobe and discovered Narnia? What would have happened if she and her brothers had decided nah, they weren’t really up for stepping through from one world to another?
8. Hop off the bandwagon. You know one character who does her own thing? Meg Murry in A Wrinkle in Time. And you know what she is? Fascinating.
9. Be brave. (Yes, I changed the phrasing on this one. Sorry, Forbes! This is a family website.) In The Golden Compass, Lyra Belacqua bravely sets out to find her kidnapped friend Roger. What happened next is one of the most interesting stories I’ve read!
10. Ignore the scolds. How many times have interesting characters — and interesting people — been told to behave themselves? Maybe we should ask Ramona Quimby, but I’m guessing the answer is, “too many times.”
So there you have it. Ten ways to be interesting, and ten interesting characters!