Using Simple Memories To Bring Characters To Life

A funny thing happened while making my bed this morning. As I made a precise hospital corner, I remembered where I learned to secure a sheet in such a manner…Summer camp. Inspections were performed, and I remember taking pride in winning an award for the neatest bed. I think of those summer camp days whenever I change the sheets. Warm sunny days, playing kickball with new friends, craft time, backwards day, all of it comes back and makes me smile.

Isn’t it odd the way simple acts can trigger such fond memories. On the flip side some simple acts trigger some not so fond memories. Like finding a HUGE spider beneath a bathroom rug. *shivers*

What the heck does this have to with writing characters? Every character I write has a little bit of me in them. Some aspect of my personality or someone I know is included in my character’s profile. Having one of my female characters have this particular memory of being taught how to make a hospital corner with a sheet would be a great way to make her more real to my readers. She can be a super bad a** heroine staying in a hotel room cleaning her Glock, and she spots a hospital corner on the bed. For a brief moment she’s transported to a happier time in her life when things were far less stressful, and she wasn’t about to take the life of a super villain. It might also remind her of the reason she’s in her present situation to begin with. Perhaps she’s avenging the death of a sister who attended camp with her so many years ago.

Things don’t have to be that dramatic. It works well for any plot in any genre. Giving your characters memories, flaws, quirks, even something as small as a scar can add a level of depth that you wouldn’t get otherwise. Draw from your own experiences in life and figure out a way to weave that into your character’s personality. Taking the time to develop your characters to that level will enhance both the writing and the reading experience of the story.

Have fun with it. Dig deep and explore some of your own experiences and how they could enhance your characters.

Let me know what you come up with.


About Kelly Abell

I am a writer, blogger, and graphic artist. My aim for you is to utilize this blog to help you improve your writing skills, and to educate you on the publishing business. If you need help with writing, want to self-publish a book and need advice, or just want to kick a story idea around to see what works best, that's what I'm here for. As I gain knowledge from editors and publishers, I will share that knowledge with you. As writers we should always strive to improve our craft and grow. A day should not pass where you haven't learned or tried something new with your writing. Many thanks to my Night Owl Friend, Lea Ellen Borg for editing my posts! Best to you and all your characters and stories. Write on, my friends...Write on.
This entry was posted in Where Story Ideas Come From, Writing Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Using Simple Memories To Bring Characters To Life

  1. I loved this post and I related. The triggers and the use to infuse it into characters or situations when we write. ! Sharing!


  2. Kelly Abell says:

    Glad you found it useful. 🙂 share away.


  3. mjnatali says:

    Hi Kelly, I’m a fairly new writer and I can relate to this as well. When I’m creating a character, doesn’t matter what their role is, I recall a memory of my own and think about the event, how it made me feel, and my reaction. It can be challenging to create a whole personality, but it’s fun too. For me it’s the psychology behind it. I’m happy you wrote this, as it gives me some confirmation that I’m on the right path.


    • Kelly Abell says:

      Glad to hear from a new writer. Sounds like you are on the right path. Developing characters is my favorite part of writing. Do you build out Character profiles? If not, I’d try it. You’d be surprised how much depth that gives your characters.


      • mjnatali says:

        Thanks Kelly, I will definitely give that a try. Can you or your assistant point me to an article or website on building an email list? My marketing is deplorable but now that I have the funds, I’m now seriously working on it


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s