How-To: Character Development
Creating the Character
As with anything, you need something to work with. To be able to develop a character, you need to create one.
When doing so, think about how the first few pieces of information can be a symbol for their personality or a theme in the story.
Have fun with this! You are creating a little baby and birthing them into the world of your book. You get to nurture them into the person you want them to be.
Getting the Basics
Figure out the gender of the character. Are they male? Female? Trans? This plays a big role into their personality and the story, Don't forget about their age and their name. At this point, you just want them to be like that one person you see at the coffee shop everyday, but you don't really know.
Here are a few basic questions to start you off:
What is their gender?
What is their age?
What is their name?
Below is a cute little worksheet that can help you figure out basic pieces of information about your character. There are also graphics online as well.
Now we can start developing the character, making them more relate-able and easier to connect with. Don't underestimate the power of character development, it is important for the plot and the level of interest there is in the book from the reader. Don't give them boring people. Boring people don't exist.
Let the process begin.
And, guess what? You've already done some character development. As I said earlier, the gender and age and possibly even height of the character already tells a lot about the person.
So, now you just need to figure out how those details are going to effect the character and the story. Plus, you want to find more details that conflict and/or complement the details you currently have figured out. Make them interesting! Make them dynamic!
Unless you want them to be a 2D, static character... Then you probably don't need to do this.
GuidelinesClick thumbnail to view full-size
You have a character with a gender, an age, a basic set of looks, and possibly even sexuality. That's great. Now let us make the character someone you know very well.
Do they have family? If so, who? If not, why?
What about pets or friends?
Their passions are important too. Do they paint or sing? Or maybe they are a boxer?
Don't forget about their personality either. Sassy or sweet? Harsh or gentle? Extrovert or introvert? Somewhere in between?
Their level of education can play a huge role in their personality as well. Have they gone to college? Did they complete high school?
What words do they use often? What words do they try and avoid? Do they have an accent? Do they use contractions?
Do you want the reader to connect with them or dislike them? How are you going to portray them in a way to reach this goal?
Figuring out the Importance
How big of a role are their relationships going to play? Will it be a side note? Or a conflict? Maybe it's the focus of the story.
You want to analyze the importance of all the details you add onto the character's personality and figure out just how important it is to the plot. If it makes it easier, you can always create a Wordle. The amount of times each word or characteristic appears, the size of the word fluctuates. This may help you figure out what parts of the character are a big part of them.
The following questions may also help you figure out the importance of each trait.
Why are they like that?
How does this affect their relationships?
Does this conflict with any other personality traits?
Is it new or old?
Is it going to change throughout the story?
How does this affect her actions and decisions?
Now You're Ready!
Go ahead and begin writing or start adding in the details throughout the story. Make sure they make sense where you put them. You don't want to confuse the reader or take the focus away from your plot.
Also, don't forget to create events where that detail is important. You want the reader to understand how big the characteristic is to the plot.