Friday, December 21, 2012



An element of mystery. Of suspense. Of agony. Of hope. And love.

Memory is a tricky thing. It teaches you things about yourself, about how you feel about things, about who you are and why you are. Memory sets the backdrop of a person’s mind. It is what drives you, what guides you, and what crafted you into who you are. The lessons of yesterday rule the actions of today, so to speak. And without them, you are nothing.

Your character’s memory

What your character remembers is key to creating a powerful setting: 

The room made her think of her long-gone father, something whimsical and pensive contained in its vintage furnishings and warm colors, bringing back moments when her imagination had been spurred by his dreams.

The dew reminded her of sunny mornings spent walking with her favorite book tucked beneath her arm beneath a trellis of forest branches needle-working above her.

The electric shock of the air invoked the anger that he had tried to forget.

Memories twist in the darkness, forbidding, like a chasm that could suck me up if I delved too far.

When you remember something pleasant about something, it usually means you have good memories linked to it, whether it is another person, a kind of food, the couch, a city, family member, the tree outside your window...

Bad memories can be powerful motivators. They put us on instant defense and we pull up our guard to protect us against the thing we remember hurting us.

When I am writing and I want to bring out a specific emotion to my readers, I have found one of the most reliable and beautiful ways to express it is in my character’s memory. Whether it is good or bad, it will draw them out, help the reader picture them better, give them a depth and meaning to the emotion, and causes sympathy or joy.

Memories can be beautiful. They can be painful. But no matter what kind of memory you have, it is interlocked with all the emotion of your heart, and it can draw you in more than anything else.

But the best part of all is creating your character's memories, giving them scenes to replay over and over in their mind, things that will connect the reader to their hearts. Memory can unlock so many doors. It can refuel love. It can tear down doubt. It can build confidence.

But most of makes your character real.




  1. Very very true. I hadn't ever given this much thought. It is true though. It is something I like when I read. Getting to see the character's memories. It makes me feel closer to them.

  2. Lovely post! I've been working strongly with memory themes in a fantasy epic I want to start writing very soon. Namely because most of the characters have major issues; one in particular is repressing a lot of bad memories. And he's not going to like it when I make him deal with them *laughs evilly*

    On a more general note, memory is such a fantastic thing to play with in a story. Not only is it a great character node, as you said here, but it can make for wonderful plot points too!

  3. I confess...I desperately want to write a book with a character with NO memories. Fun, eh?

    But your post is awesome! And very true. In my book (as you know) I do a lot of bad memories, but I think I should play more with the good ones.