Fiction Writing: Characters

Character development will be your most delicate task when you write. I say this because there is much to consider. Your characters are the ones that will give your story life. They will either be loved or disliked by your readers for who they are. It is your job as a writer to develop them and to set their individual tone.

downloadThink about your favorite television show, or a favorite book you recently read. What makes you like them so much? Of course, the characters in the story are the source of your enjoyment. The character’s personality, their strength, their weakness, their looks, their patterns of interaction—all their traits keep you intrigued.

Developing characters is one of my favorite parts of writing. I realize that if I don’t have good characters, I don’t have much of a story. I advise writers to practice at least three disciplines when developing characters: Imagine, Listen and Watch, and Learn from Your Story

As you begin to develop your character, you may have no idea, or you may already have a character in mind. Fiction writing always starts with imagination. How do you imagine that character to be? Are they Villain or Hero? Think about what traits match with your character. Remember to write as much detail as you can imagine in your writing journal or notebook.

Listen and Watch
You may think that bringing your character to life requires some kind of mastery in writing, but I’m here to tell you it doesn’t. It takes listening and watching. You are surrounded by a variety of personalities. These are extremely beneficial to the development of your characters. How so? Consider a conversation between two individuals. How do their voices sound? Do they have an accent?

Pay attention to the flow of the conversation. Does what they say give you insight into who they are? Watch their mannerisms. What are their hands doing? What do you see as unique to that person? These are the elements that make characters interesting and attractive to your readers.

Cafe Sketch_26aLearn From your Story?
The next task for developing your character is giving them a back story. Why is this important? It gives you and your reader a way to connect with the character. To know pieces of their past, how they grew up, and their struggle helps you know them better. You can now understand their behavior and what they say.

The reader will formulate how they feel about the character. The character may even remind them of someone they know. You can be creative in how you share the back story. What matters is that each character owns one. Giving your characters a back story will also prevent you, the author, from being lost as to what the character should be doing. The back story ensures that you know the character’s role in the story.

Now you have what it takes to develop your characters: imagination, the use of your senses, and creation of a back story. You can now put together a profile. You will enjoy this part too because it is a combining of all the information you worked to compile.

If you want to be real fancy, draw a picture of your character. Using this process will give your characters life. Character development assists you to present your vision to readers when you write. Happy writing!