Make them unique!

Make them unique

Creating unique characters are vital if you want your readers to remember them outside of the covers of your book.

My starting point when trying to figure out what makes my character unique, what their hooks are, I try to answer the question “What makes me interested in this character?”

There are multiple areas where you can make your characters unique, and I’ll list some of them here. This list is not a complete list, and each section has even more ways and examples than what I provide here.

Before moving on, I’ll add that most of these tips come from a book called A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter by S. P. Sipal. Most examples and more fully explanations are by me, but most areas come from Sipal. Now, with that out of the way, let us move on!

Another character

Using another character is commonly used with twins, or when someone has an animal counterpart. The other person is there to contrast or highlight something specific. It can be the familial love or caring for another, or it might be their mistrust and spying tendencies.

It can also be a connection to particular families or other larger groups. Identifying with groups can overlap with workplaces, but what I’m thinking of here is more like organisations and groups such as the Death Eaters or the DA in Harry Potter. But both work and organisations can be used as hooks for a character.

Following are some examples of characters having a hook connected to a person or animal.

  • Fred & George—Twins
  • Argus Filch & Mrs Norris—Mistrusts and spies on students
  • The Malfoys—Rich purebloods
  • Dedalus Diggle—Member of Order of the Phoenix

Physical description

Something about the characters physical description is what makes them stand out against the rest of the cast. It can be them having pink hair compared to everyone else’s blond, brown, black hair. Might be the constant reminder of their black hair green eye combination. It can be their greasy hair and a hooked nose. Can be their complete pink wardrobe.

But not only their outward appearances can be a hook, but some might also have some disability. Disabilities are not only on the senses but also prosthetics, magical or technical replacements of human parts. But also non-human species fits this description. Everything that isn’t human is interesting because it is unusual.

Following are some examples of characters having a hook related to their physical descriptions.

  • Madame Olympe Maxime—An elegant half-giant
  • Mad-eye Moody—Magical eye
  • Remus Lupin—A calm and kind werewolf
  • Ginny Weasley—Female redhead

Plot related

Their traditional role in the story, or their archetype, can be a hook for the character. The part can be tropes such as Mad Scientist, Blood Knight, or Not Afraid to Die. It can also be their actual role in the story such as Mentor, Love interest, or Sidekick.

It can also be a secret or clue the character are keeping through the story, preventing the story from moving forward. The character can hide evidence to something that affects the plot in a big way or just a smaller part that helps a single scene. It can also be more focus on the mystery that the reader doesn’t know who they are and if they can be trusted or not.

Following are some example of characters having a hook related to the plot.

  • Sirius Black—The substitute father figure
  • Ron Weasley—Sidekick
  • Mad-eye Moody—Frequent swings from a bottle hiding more than a drinking problem
  • Severus Snape—Ambiguity in loyalties

Character traits

It can be their personality making them unique, or the voice of the character can be used to separate them from the others. It can be that they have a dialect or a specific way of speaking. A characters speech is a wholly own part of character creation and will have it’s own post later.

It can also be their job making them rememberable, either because it is so unexpected for that character to have the job, or because the job itself is impressive or introduced intriguingly.

Following are some example of characters having a hook related to their personality or work.

  • Aunt Petunia Dursley—Clean freak
  • Rubeus Hagrid—Dropped “g”s in his speech
  • Stan Shunpike—Conductor on the Knight Bus
  • Charlie Weasley—Works with Dragons

Interests

A characters passion about something can be their hook, and it can be the same for obsessions they have. When they are passionate about something, they also tend to be exceptionally good at it. Their passion can be anything from human rights to more specific things—such as their stamp collection.

Habits and hobbies they have are also available for being used to make them unique. It is crucial that mentioned hobbies are relevant to the plot and not forced into the story to make them unique, so it can be harder to include. Habits are more natural to add since they can be small ticks the character have, to larget things they do without thinking but look strange to other characters.

Following are some examples of characters having their interest or habits as hooks.

  • Rubeus Hagrid—Interest in dangerous animals
  • Ron Weasley—Constantly eating
  • Neville Longbottom—Herbology interest and abilities
  • Harry Potter—Spells Expelliarmus and Expecto Patronum