Something is iconic when it is universal. What is universal about it is honed down to a clever and clear image that is immediately recognizable and simple. All the elements point to what it’s “about” that is the theme.
Characters, Places and objects become addictive not only when they are clever but also when they are appealing. Making something appealing is a whole art form in itself but everyone knows when something is cool. People want to dress like the characters or have models of the vehicles or wear the symbols of the location. When something is well designed it stays in the imagination.
Treat everything like a Character
Heroes, Villains and Allies aren’t the only characters; the world and objects are too. Places and things should have their own personalities. All elements should be treated like a character and should have personal drives and goals. All “characters” affect all the other “characters” as if they were their own person with their own agenda.
Example: A world seems to actively resist a character as if it were intentionally trying to hinder them. An object is always there and willing like a trusty friend.
First of all every “character” needs to be iconic, universal, super cool and not flat or annoying. If they are up to snuff then it is best when the “character” is reoccurring. By reoccurring I mean they are some how immortal. They live on in some way. Either they can’t be killed off or stopped and keep coming back to the fight or something about them sticks to the audience so that they can’t be forgotten and their presence is felt when they are not around. The cooler a “character” is and the more it’s reincorporated them more addicting it will become. Like that old reliable friend you can’t get enough of. People love familiarity. When you "kill" the character off it hampers the imagination of the audience. Even if a character does die it's good to have some way that they live on or can continue to influence the world.
Example: a hero, ally or villain keeps coming back and getting into trouble. They don’t “settle down” or “die off.” A person creates something that is present when they are not around. The presence of a unique world is always felt. An object is so useful it keeps being used.
The Seven Elements
The hero should be relatable, unique and someone that everyone wants to be. They have some “super power” that gives them the edge but also has a serious “curse” that haunts them and can never be resolved. The curse should cause dilemma. Some thing about them makes it so they keep getting into trouble. They can’t ultimately resolve the conflict because their goal is too big to ever fully accomplish.
Example: batman want’s to stop crime. Crime can’t ever be fully stopped.
A hero is only as good as their advisories. Reoccurring villains that always push the Hero to the limit are vital. They represent deeper issues and bring out the Hero’s dark side. They should be as cool, iconic and interesting as the hero.
Friends and Allies
The Friends and Allies also make the hero who they are. They either contrast the hero to show traits the hero wouldn’t usually show or they balance the hero out. They represent certain attributes, themes or points of view. They should be as cool, iconic and independently driven as the hero. The hero should need them in some way and they likewise should need the hero.
A place everyone wishes they could go. This is the hero’s home base. It can either be there all the time or just visited occasionally but it should be integral enough that it is reoccurring. It can be an entire place (Hogwarts) or a location the hero keeps coming back to (batcave/ Wayne Manor.) It could be a simple as say a tent the hero always has with them. In modern society computers are often more home than our actual places of sleep.
A place that everyone wishes they could visit that has many interesting possibilities. The world really defines the possibilities of the story. The world should really be treated as a character, a villain as often as not. The world should be easy to understand yet creative and spark the imagination. The world should be believable and solid.
Example: Gotham or the secret magic world of Harry Potter.
Cool vehicles that take the hero places they couldn’t go otherwise.
Example: The batmobile or Harry’s broomstick.
This is an object that does cool things and is iconic and useful enough that it keeps showing up. It should be something the hero needs to do what they want to do. It can be as simple as batman throwing stars, Harry’s wand or as complicated as a portable super computer.
Observations by Rozlynn Waltz