Five Ways To Develop Your Character

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,

Jade x

How to make your Characters talk to you…

It sounds weird, doesn’t it?.

How can your own characters, which your mind gave birth too, which you clothed and brought up and made them in to this person you “want” them to be, not talk to you..

Quite easily I’ll have you know – I think most writers will agree – that ometimes the sassy little things will sit there and mope and you feel like you can’t do anything about it…

Sometimes those things you love so much will lead you in to a writing block, but the best way to fight that is to just write more…

This is just one of the way’s of many to make them talk to you a little bit more, and in my experience, is the easiest thing to do, but it will differ for everyone.

I think the best way to learn about a character is to write about them, but I don’t mean as in, write about their role in your story, I mean, as in, write about what they did before the story started. Most of the time, you’ll know the story of their lives, the few things that happened before, things that necessarily aren’t important to what they are doing right now, but I think that to properly grapple on to how your characters came to be the person they are now, you need to take time out of your WIP and write about the things that made them who they are. Almost like a short story or a piece of flash fiction. It doesn’t need to be highly edited, or a master piece in anyway, it can just be something you keep for yourself, or, if you want, release it in to ‘The World’ as an extra little tidbit in to ‘Your World’.

For example, one of my secondary characters, Ryan, had a run-in with a Knight he used to squire with. I knew a joust was involved with their final separation, that it was the day he found his horse Bezel and Bezel almost got killed, but I didn’t know the extent of it all – like the emotions and the thoughts my character would have had, or, the hatred he had for the Knight until I wrote about it. I know the Knight changed him for the worst, but there’s always a little part of him that kept him good. Mostly.

My fingers did the work – sometimes they write things I never know are going to happen until they do – and I think Ryan helped me to tell the story that truly showed himself for who he was, or who he wanted to be, even though, it didn’t really work out that way; but every day, this man surprises me and keeps going forward.

It was the story that told me why the two of them weren’t close anymore, the reason why he didn’t look up to him, and the story that also, surprisingly, lead to his family name being redeemed to the King, something I didn’t plan until I wrote about it, but fitted in so perfectly I couldn’t not put it in.

I learnt much more than I thought I would, and I’ve noticed that it sort of bleeds in to the book I’m writing without having to add all those extra words in. It may never get put in to the series at all, but I think that the more you know about the people in your book, the more it comes across in your writing without actually writing it (How it works, I don’t know, but it does).

There are obviously other ways to do this. For example, you could write a letter to your characters (you can find examples of them over here at M.A. Ryan, readtolivetowrite, Uninspiredwriters and even on my own blog here), you could do an interview with your character (I recently found Library of Erana, and it has so many interesting character interviews, it’s insane, here’s a link to her character interview tag). And obviously, you could write a whole new novel or even novella about them.

Look at Cassandra Clare. She’s got several series from the Shadowhunter world, each of them adding another layer of depth and information to a world many people can’t get enough off.

Another way is obviously the Pottemore route. Pottermore has allowed J.K. Rowling to release a whole host of short stories and extra info about the Wizarding World, and to this day, she keeps adding to the world that has inspired hundreds of millions of people! (Happy Birthday Jo and Harry <3)

Obviously, some of us aren’t in that situation yet where we are published. We don’t have that sort of platform, but if you want it to get out there, if you have a world full of little stories you want people to know about, but can’t really justify adding the extra so many words to your main novel; or have more worlds waiting to be written about, so can’t always justify writing more books, blogs and websites are so easily accessible nowadays that you could post the short stories on them as you write them, and, so many years down the line, when your book is published and readers are looking for those little extras, they’ll come across the little gems (or Easter eggs) you planted years before.

I think the worst thing about this is finding the balance between the worlds your writing about now, and the worlds you may still have waiting in the wings, waiting for their time to shine, but I think it’s all about finding a balance and realising when each world needs to finally end (If I ever figure that one out, I’ll make sure to tell you)!

I know this post is a little later in the day than I would normally like, but I tried to write it last night in time for this morning, but my mind didn’t want to form the right sentences for it.

You see, yesterday, I read over a short story that I posted a couple months ago – about Ryan and his joust – and it just reminded me of how important it is to write about them, to write about how they became them. If you fancy a read, you can find it here. It’s not perfect in any way, but it was fun to do, and that’s the whole point of writing – that even though it’s stressful and makes you want to tear your hair out, it’s still FUN!?!

What methods do you use to make your characters talk to you? I’d love to hear about them 🙂

And until next time guys,

Just keep writing…

Jade x

Twenty Writing tips

I’m no expert, but one of my favourite things is to write stories and create my own little worlds!

But, alas, like everyone, I suffer from writers block. It can last days… months… Sometimes, I just feel too busy to be inspired, and other times, I sit down and just can’t put anything to paper. But I’ve found ways to beat it. Here are some tips that I’ve gathered on my journey as a writer, and hopefully, they can help you write the story you always wanted too:

  1. Make sure you do your research! For example, if your story is set in Tudor times; look up the clothing; what they ate; what roles they had. If a character is ill or murdered, research the symptoms, the causes; the way someone would die if they had their heart ripped our by a werewolf! Research, research, research! It may make your history look terrible, even questionable, but as a writer, you need to know what your writing about before you can write it! It can make a story more believable if you know how much blood your hero can lose before dying!
  2. Try and write everyday! It doesn’t need to be a story. It could be a blog post, an essay, an idea; even writing about your day in a journal will help.
  3. Use prompts! You can find numerous challenges on the internet, and you can even use prompts to help you complete the piece your working on. Just relate the prompt to your story and you may come up with a new scene all together!
  4. Write first, edit later! Remember that you can’t edit a blank page! (I am the worse for this, especially if there’s a complicated scene). If you write something your not happy with, use the highlighter tool so you can go back to it later. Usually, when I go back this way, the stories more developed and I have a better idea of how I want it to read.
  5. When writing, use what’s best for you! Some people prefer the old pen and paper, and some prefer to sit at their laptop. Some may even use a typewriter! It’s all about what makes you comfortable.
  6. Have a little notebook where you can jot down all your ideas! Some may find that a jotter pad or a reporters notebook is good enough for them, but don’t be afraid to get something a little more expensive! I found that after going to WHSmiths and getting an A5 moderno notebook, I’ve been inspired to write more! It gives you a space to create characters, scenes and brain storm to your hearts content!
  7. Said! Laura said, Robert said, I said! It may sound repetitive at first, but it makes a story flow so much easier if you write Aran said instead of Aran questioned, asked, replied, etc! When you think about it, it makes so much more sense!
  8. Let others read it! You may think that your story has lost that excitement and feeling it had in the beginning, but remember that you’ve looked over it hundreds of times and know every spoiler, every loop hole! Having another set of eyes on your work could inspire you to write more, to write better! It doesn’t need to be an agent, or a publisher, it could be a friend, a parent! Just ask them to be honest!
  9. Have an app on your phone or your notebook handy at all times! You’ll never know when inspiration will strike! I find that whenever I have a spare moment, whether I’m sat on the train or waiting for something, I’ll sit on my phone and write a scene for something that hasn’t even been mentioned yet!
  10. Have somewhere to write! It could be your bedroom, your office, your front room, maybe even a coffee shop! Just have somewhere you feel you can concentrate! It won’t be the same place for everyone. Some people need quiet, others might like a bit of background noise.
  11. When writing, you don’t have to start at the beginning. If a scene or an idea strikes you that would be better suited to the middle or end of your story, just write it! You can put it all together later! Sometimes, people find it easier to start writing from the middle and going outwards.
  12. Join writing communities! It could just be a page on Facebook that gives out some helpful tips and tricks, or maybe a forum where you can ask questions! Even following other writers and publishers on twitter can help inspire you! For me, I liked ‘The Writers Circle’ on Facebook and enjoy seeing the handy tips and prompts that they put up every once in a while.
  13. Have a thesaurus handy! Some say its better to have a hard copy next to you, but is just as good and will help you block out all those repetitive words you see sprawled across your text!
  14. Read books! I think this is the most obvious! Reading, whether its the same genre that your working on or a completely different one will help to inspire you! It can give you different outlooks on how to write, and make your writing better in the long run! I’ve found that being a reader also helps you spell so much better!
  15. Explore! It doesn’t need to be a mysterious path in a forest, or a climb up a mountain! It could just be a stroll down the street, up the park or maybe a road trip! Just open yourself up to your surroundings. The world is full of inspiration in every single nuke and cranny, it’s just waiting to be discovered by you!
  16. Read it out loud! This will help with anything you write! It’ll let you know how well it all flows and whether or not your dialogues make sense.
  17. Make sure that when you do sit down to write that you keep yourself hydrated! Whether it’s a coffee (yuck), a tea or a bottle of water, staying hydrated will keep your mind more focused.
  18. Open yourself up to other types of inspirations! Watch a movie, a TV show, play a videogame, listen to some music, go to a museum! Just because it’s already been done doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Nowadays, every idea has been explored by one person or another, but it’s not been done by you!
  19. Be passionate about what your writing! Don’t write because you want to become a famous author, write because you want to know what happens in your story from the beginning to the end! If your passionate about what you write, the people who read it will be too!
  20. Believe in yourself! That’s the best advice that anyone could give you.