Character development is perhaps one of the best parts about writing a story! You get to create and develop a whole new person to put through all your menacing adventures and life-defining moments – just for entertainment!
Some will even go as far to say that the characters are the stars of the story, that no matter how bad or good a plot is, the characters steal the show! I might not agree with that completely, I think a balance between the two makes a book the best it can be, but today, I’m here to give you a few ideas to help develop your characters in a way that doesn’t involve doing the generic type of profile on them!
So, let’s look at 5 ways to help develop your character:
1. Write a short story of an event that happened before the novel starts!
This first one is something I love to do! It might seem a bit pointless, especially if it doesn’t equate to anything that happens in the story your writing about them now, but it let’s you get in to character more, it let’s you sort of explore the way they would do things then, and if they’ve changed since then. Especially if you do it free-hand, and just write it in a sort of flash fiction kind of way! – Sometimes you just have to write it, and let the ideas just flow through your fingers without the planning beforehand.
I’ve done it for three of my sub-characters so far, and it’s made me feel even more connected and in tune with them than ever before!
2. Send them letters
Write a letter to your character; you can be formal, informal, nasty, nice. Just send them a letter apologising, or send them a letter telling them they deserve it! It can be as vague or as detailed as you want, and it sort of allows you to look more in to how the experiences are changing them, how you see them personally, and it might even make you feel better if you can justify the horrible thing happening to them!
You can even switch it up, and send a letter from one character to another!
I’ve done three of them so far, one of which you’ll get to see next Wednesday!
3. Interview them!
Sit your characters down, and put them in the hot seat. You can ask a whole manner of questions: from their reasoning behind being who they are, to what their favourite animal is. You could even have their opinions on what they think of other characters!
And also, think about how they would react; do they answer the questions freely, do they shy away from certain ones, change the subject, be vague, shuffle in their chair? Tap their foot? There’s so much fun to have with something like this.
4. Use prompts to change up their settings!
Use your characters as the main character of a random prompt. Put your high school kid in to a castle, put your Knight in to a modern day city, find out how they would react. There’s so many good prompts out there you can use!
5. Fancast your characters!
Who would you choose to play them in a movie? A play? A TV show? It could be absolutely anyone you want, a model, a singer, an actor, a friend. It helps so much to make them more real, and it allows you to look more in to the similarities that they could share with real-life people, which, in turn, helps them to be more relateable!
Some characters will be easy to fancast, they’ll already have that certain look in your head that reminds you of someone you’ve seen before, and then others, you’ll wrack your brains over until you just google ’30 year old red headed actors’ and hope that one day, you find the perfect one!
Now, the next few are just little questions you could ask them, or quiz’s you could take (as them) on the internet! (Buzzfeed are great for these sorts of things)
- What princess are they most like?
- What Hogwarts house would they be in?
- What movie character are they most like?
- What superhero are they most like?
Character development will make or break a book! You need both plot and character to win the hearts of readers, but if your characters fall flat, and their at the heart of a book, your readers won’t waste their time.
And, this may seem like a whole lot of extra words that you may never be able to put in to your book, but, readers will be able to see the effort and time put in to the characters by the way their written, and they might not be the most conventional ways, but, why be conventional anyway?
So, until next time,
Put that antagonist on that hot-seat and ask who their favourite Disney Princess is, and make that sub-character you see only once or twice explain to you how their feeling about the whole situation, and, as always,
Just Keep Writing,