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Character Development Tips To Improve Your Short Stories and Novels

Updated on October 10, 2013

The Hard Truth About Characters

"Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house. Opening the first takes the pressure off the second."
Robert Frost

Take a moment and think of the most boring person that you know. Got them in your mind? Why are they boring? Are they one-dimensional? Are they mono-syllabic when they speak? Do they have the depth of a wading pool?

It is my belief that all people are interesting and have a story to be told, and it is also my belief that main characters in your book or short-story better be interesting or they have no business being in your story.

Here is a truth that you can take to the bank: readers want to relate to your story and characters. Think of some of your favorite characters in novels. Why are they your favorites? Chances are it’s because they were engaging, and you got to know them as real people. That is your job as a writer, to bring your characters to life so that your readers want to meet them and know them better.

And how do you do that you ask?

It all begins here in the writing studio
It all begins here in the writing studio | Source

"When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature."
Ernest Hemingway

INTERVIEW YOUR CHARACTERS

I’m dead serious. Sit down and conduct an interview with your main characters. Ask them what their beliefs are. Ask them what their favorite foods are, and ask them what their childhood was like. No, you won’t be using all of this information in the book you are writing, but you will develop a portrait of the character by doing this. The more you know about your characters, the more their personality will shine in your story and that is your goal.

So sit down with a blank sheet of paper and list your main characters. Next, interview each one and list their characteristics. Finally, write a personal mission statement for each character. What do they want out of life? What is important to them and what are their goals? When you can answer those questions then you are ready to introduce them into your book.

GIVE CHARACTERS LAYERS

There is a little bad and a little good in all of us. Admit it! The same should be true for your characters. Give your characters layers and depth. In order for your readers to relate to your characters, the characters must resemble real human beings. Heroes have dark sides and villains have redeeming qualities.

WHAT DOES YOUR CHARACTER LOOK LIKE?

Writers are artists. It is our job to paint a picture using our words. In other words, what do your characters look like?

Write down a physical description of each character. How tall are they? Are the overweight or muscular? Do they walk with a hitch or stride purposefully? The readers are seeing your characters through your words, so sit down and write out a complete physical description of each character.

You might find it easier to go out in public and take pictures of people, and then use those pictures as an aid in describing your characters.

Take pictures of real-life people to help you develop your own characters
Take pictures of real-life people to help you develop your own characters | Source

Thoughts on my writing process

"In Hollywood the woods are full of people that learned to write but evidently can't read. If they could read their stuff, they'd stop writing."
Will Rogers

WHAT ARE YOUR CHARACTER NAMES?

Try to steer away from the mundane and common place when naming your characters. Remember that you want your characters to be memorable and there is nothing memorable about John or Mary.

Atticus, though, is memorable, as are Hans Solo and Mr. Peepers. Try to have the name reflect the person. A steady, trustworthy hero should not be called Marion…..better to go with John Wayne.

Pay attention to the sound of the name. Dirk is tough; Timothy is not.

AVOID LONG-WINDED CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS IN YOUR BOOK

In a word, these are boring. I have personally read novels where one character’s description lasted three pages. By the end of the three pages I hated the character and in fact hated the novel….and yes, it was written by a Russian novelist. J

A better approach is to add a little about your characters throughout your book. You can begin with the basics at first, and then as that character interacts with other characters you can learn more about them during conversations.

IMITATION IS FLATTERING BUT LACKS IMAGINATION

My favorite character in fiction has been, is now, and always will be Atticus Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Having said that, the worst mistake I could make would be to make a character in my next book an Atticus clone. Been there, done that and yes, the book was already written.

Be creative. One of the main characters in my novel “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today” was a guy named Tweetie. Tweetie was a far-out hippie who was a compilation of guys I knew in college during the Sixties. I had great fun developing his character and I feel confident in saying he is unique and all mine.

Notice that I said Tweetie IS UNIQUE! I used presence tense because to me, Tweetie is alive. I lived with that lanky weirdo for three years and I know him like he’s my brother. He even has his own Facebook page. J

FIND INSPIRATION FROM REAL LIFE

I don’t know about you but my life has been filled with interesting people. All I have to do is combine a couple of them and I have a fascinating character for my next book.

Something else I have done is to take a notebook with me when I’m out in public. When I see an interesting specimen I jot down a description of that person. A few years ago I saw an extremely-overweight woman with gold chains and bracelets and heavy makeup at a water park. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and she eventually ended up in a story I wrote. In real life I’m sure that woman had a fascinating story. In my book she had one as well, one born from that sighting at the water park.

Find inspiration in real life
Find inspiration in real life | Source

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Final Test

"If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it."
Anais Nin

When you get all done developing your characters and when the final interview with them is over, ask yourself this one simple question: do I like them?

If you don’t like your characters then chances are excellent that your readers won’t either. Remember that characters must be relatable. We all remember Hannibal Lecter, as despicable a character as has ever been created and yet….there was something likeable about him. He was charming, he was funny, he was witty and oh yes, he was also a serial killer who ate his victims.

May we all have an Atticus Finch or Hannibal Lecter in our writing future.

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

"Helping writers to spread their wings and fly."

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, Renee! Good luck with that book.

    • renee21 profile image

      renee21 2 years ago

      I am currently writing a book and I sometime struggle with how to write my characters. This is useful advise. Great hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aesta, I'm glad you are enjoying those characters. They are many of my old friends combined. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment, and I hope you have a marvelous weekend.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Well, I am into Toby, Maria and petty and beginning to love Petey. I remember friends like him. My husband and I often talk about friends who have character. It's fun to have them around. Thanks for another learning.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DrBill, it is always nice to see you. Thank you and Happy New Year.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      More great advice. I know what to do. Doing it is a further Challenge. Thanks for the encouragement! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sorneheri, I don't blame you. I wouldn't write it again either. LOL Thank you for what you did write.

    • profile image

      EneragatOneri 4 years ago

      Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say excellent blog!

      Sorneheri

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, it is my experience with you that you do not miss too much. :) Thanks as always....it's about time for another hub from you, is it not?

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent thoughts, Bill, on developing the personality and characteristics of fictional characters before writing that short story or novel. And I didn't miss your reference to 'Marion' from John Wayne's real name. Touche!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Leslie!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      Thank you Bill..the interview is very helpful..

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Insightful, I'm glad to help my friend. Characters must come alive or they are just....well, characters. :) Talk to them...bring them to life...and they will serve you well.

      Thank you so much for yet another visit.

    • Insightful Tiger profile image

      Insightful Tiger 4 years ago

      Great tips! This is really useful, I have to pin it so I know where to find it. I have been stuck on my short story and I think this is why! I don't know the characters well enough, I don't care about them enough. I need to interview them! Thank you so much for the advice, brother mentor. Well done and voted up!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shoot, Lurana, you have me blushing. Thank you....I hope what you say is true. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Walter, I am honored my friend. Thank you and may your writing today be the best you have ever produced.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      I dream more of what I will write than actually write....but I am also very busy. I will get there, and I believe that you will too! Bill is an inspiration to many of us. :-)

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Billybuc, that sentence was actually inspired by you! Ever since I read your hubs on writing, my writing takes on a new life.

      MrsBrownsParlour, you must follow Billybuc. He's contagious! Ooophhhssss, I mean follow his writings.... He opens so many possibilities that I suddenly found myself running out of time. Now I want to write a self-help book, as well as a novel. But I don't even have time to write a hub, so I can only dream of doing the two, at the moment. But, at the very least, it gives me something to dream about.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lurana, I agree with you...I wish I had thought of that line. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Walter, that is beautifully described. Great comment.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      WalterPoon---I agree with you, both about novels and about how important it is for people to follow their calling. I love what you wrote: "26 letters going round and round, at times making you want to laugh and cry"---that is pure poetry!! You need to save that line and use it somewhere bigger than here. Brilliant. It is nice to have met you here in Bill hubs today. ~Lurana

      Bill, always a pleasure. :-)

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      MrsBrownsParlour, that's exactly why I find novels so amazing.

      When I was young, I used to think that novels are just rubbish because they are not facts. When I was in school, there were 2 students with good results who wanted to study the arts stream. The headmaster was so incensed that he called us into the class and said that in a developing country like Malaysia, no one should do arts, if they can do science. (We thought he make sense, but looking back, it's pure nonsense. You do what your passions tell you to do.)

      The mastery of word craft and wordplay in novels is mind-boggling. Footballers dribble the ball, novelists dribble the words... 26 letters going round and round, at times making you want to laugh and cry!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lurana, that's exactly what it is...making an inanimate object come alive. When we can accomplish that we have accomplished a great deal.

      Thank you my dear and have a great weekend in Chicagoland.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      The best characters are so alive that we feel we knew them for having read the book, as if their lives touched ours. It's magic.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Toknowinfo, thanks for stopping by again. I think it is so important that your characters become "real people" with personalities and quirks.....otherwise, how is the reader ever going to associate with them?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Deb! In truth that's how I invent my characters as well.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      Excellent advice, Bill. Many writers write even write whole back story biographies about their characters that never get published. But by knowing your characters thoroughly, they become real and their personality becomes inserted in the book in a realistic and relating way. As always your hubs are a source of wisdom.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Great advice, Billy. I always compiled my characters from an assortment of people.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anonymous, it was my pleasure. Thank you for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Walter, I have always loved that quote by Greene, and it is so accurate. Thank you for weighing in on this painful moment.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, I truly believe that strong characters can take on a life of their own and write the story. They did in my first novel and they are again in my second.

      I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your nephew. Sending hugs and blessings and prayers your way.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Phoenix, it was indeed our favorite Russian novelist.....LOL

      Tweetie was so much fun to write about....thank you for reading about him and embracing his character.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Martin, and thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      jycmba, what an excellent simile....yes indeed, there are depths to all people if we are willing to dig. I love that.

      Thank you!

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, very true my friend, and yet so many people have trouble with character development. I guess it is the "bringing to life" that is the hard part.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day.

      blessings always

      bill

    • Anonymous00 profile image

      Anonymous00 4 years ago

      Some great advice here. Thanks for the write-up. Great work.

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Pstraubie48 , you said: "I am grappling with the loss of my nephew so will not be on so often for a while."

      Graham Greene says: "Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation."

      Catch the moment... you may not write as well as right at this very moment about what you are going through in the days to come. Capture your emotions right away!!! It's not just a therapy, but it's like killing 2 birds with one stone, maybe even 3, when you look back at what you have written 10 years down the road. You can caption your hub as "The agony of losing a loved one"... ooophhhssss, Bill said to be specific: "The agonizing pain of losing a beloved nephew"??!!! Maybe Bill can help you with a more appropriate title.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Hi Bill

      Your writing hubs are so 'right on.' ---sounds trite but you have done such an amazing job of capturing the right things, the right way to developing our writing. The characters I find take on a life of their own and they begin to write the story. Does that sound silly??

      You really should collect these and publish as a handbook ....seriously.

      I am grappling with the loss of my nephew so will not be on so often for a while.

      Love your work. Keep your voice loud and strong. Angels are on the way ps

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      OMG, that is EXACTLY how I pictured Tweety as I read your book! This one picture really brings what you've written about character development into focus. (I think I made a pun here. It was unintentional.)

      Was that Russian novelist Dostoyevsky, by any chance.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for your helpful suggestions.

    • jycmba profile image

      jycmba 4 years ago from Los Angeles CA

      Probably the most valuable idea for me is how not finding something you like about a villain means that you haven't dug deep enough - it's the same as flipping someone the bird in rush hour traffic.. you have no idea what's going on in their lives -

      Maybe they've just lost a loved one, maybe their boss just chewed them out for the nth time.. much easier to demonize others when we don't walk that mile in their shoes. Much more interesting and compelling when we do.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      I always find my inspiration from real life . . . and sometimes combine the character of different people into one to make that character more interesting. I mean, there are so many "characters" in real life, it is hard to not use their personalities in characters when writing.

      Thanks for the tips again.

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Levertis, I'll take it a step further....I wanted Gregory Peck to be like Atticus Finch. Maybe he was.....no way of knowing...but I know I would have been disappointed to find out he was really a egomaniac like so many actors. :)

      Thanks for a great reflection. Now get busy on that novel. :)

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

      Atticus Finch! He is one of my favorite characters, too, but I wanted him to find a good wife. I suppose that would have taken away from the character the author wanted to portray. There was an innocency, kindheartedness, and loneliness about him that caused me to like him with a little sympathy, trust him, and not anticipate any surprise changes in his character. I hate to like a character only to hate him, but I love it.

      This is great information! You made characterization a piece of cake. I think I am finally ready to complete that great American Novel! The only thing I need to do now is write it. (Sigh)

      I enjoyed the reading and will share.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jo!

      I found the camera helps greatly because you have a handy, visual reference right in front of you while you are describing your character. As for interviewing your character, I don't blame you if that's not your cup of tea. :)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Hi Billy, a very useful and informative article!...I believe most of us who are writing on HP dreams of one day producing an amazing book, this article will Help to make that dream a little more real.

      I don't quite see myself interviewing my characters, but I like the idea of writing down a physical description of each. When I write a short story I tend to base my characters mostly on people I've known, however, I will get my camera out, maybe i can get some interesting shots now that the sun is out. Thank you for this, I found it very enlightening. Take care and my best to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LK, thank you! I had to go back and read it to find out where the humor was. LOL I had forgotten that I had included any.

    • LKMore01 profile image

      LKMore01 4 years ago

      Read this on Google and wanted to comment Bill. This HUB is extremely useful and I love your humor. You made this a joy to read. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok....it's always nice having you stop by.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, you might like it...then again, maybe not. LOL Thanks for stopping by and I do hope it helps.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 4 years ago from Hawaii

      A great and useful hub for writers of stories.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 4 years ago from Scotland

      Useful hub as always. I had never thought to interview the characters but it sounds like a very fine idea! I am going to try that and see what develops from it. Thankyou :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well Christy, I'm glad to hear this came at a good time. Thanks for the visit and also the visit to my blog. Greatly appreciated my friend.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Tweetie sounds like a great character! Atticus is memorable for sure. You offer great tips for developing a character. I am working on my second manuscript and am glad to read your tips today. Great one, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, I hope you know how much I appreciate you and others like you who have always supported me. Thank you so very much.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Developing characters is difficult for me. This is really useful Bill. Thank you for helping your followers. I hope you know how much you are appreciated? Cheers...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Martie! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Enigmatic, that is a great suggestion and I think it works well with this hub. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I suppose if the tall, dark and handsome characters were all serial killers that might add some spice to the tale. :) Thanks as always and have a great week of May.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jaye, your point is excellent...the characters must seem real to our readers....otherwise why would we want to read about them?

      Thank you my friend and have a great week.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joe, I am so far behind in my comments...sorry about that. My workload increased dramatically last week and will be this way until the end of May....so, thank you for your comment my friend, and I hope your walk was a pleasant one today. The rains have returned with a vengeance on this side of the mountain.

      Aloha

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Natasha, I understand too...my characters take on a life after awhile....Bev and I constantly refer to characters from my novel like they are real people.

      Glad you liked these ideas my friend. I hope you are well and happy and thank you for visiting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MJ, the world would be happier, I think, if you upped the dosage on those meds, but oh how boring it would be without your charm in the morning.

      I read this first thing this morning but customers were calling and articles needed to be written.

      I got a call from Wonder Woman and she is more than ready to meet with you, but only if you wear that white suite that buckles your arms in the back. I'm not sure what she meant by that but there you are.

      Must run my friend. Thanks for a day filled with chuckles and all because of your insanity.

      My best to Suzie; she's going to need it. :)

      bill

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Perfect instructions for creating fictive characters. Voted up, inspiring and very well presented :)

    • Enigmatic Me profile image

      4 years ago from East Coast Canada

      Thanks billy!

      I sometimes wondered about my own character development...I mean my characters development. Sure if we look inward to ourselves I am sure there are plenty of different versions of ourselves we can find and make use of. But the characters I have written I have used a variety of strategies to bring them to life... though I cannot say I've ever interviewed them. So, I may add that to the repertoir so to speak. I find that sometimes when we list characteristics we end up with a 2 dimensional character....I need in situ starts...as where the character is, hangs out, eats, spends his time, does his work, plays his games adds that extra dimension to them, bringing them a little more to the surface and allows for deeper understanding of who they are and why we like them. I thank you for your take, it was informative!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Well, if I ever write a book, I have a handful of characters to draw from in my mind. Some I've seen , like your waterpark lady, and some are a compilation of people. Usually they are tall, dark and handsome, but that would make for a boring book. Hope you are having a great day.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Bill--Writing a bio sketch or backstory for characters who will figure in my fiction helps me write (I hope) convincingly about their actions and dialogue. I don't get bogged down in details for short fiction, but try to at least know my main characters' personalities and motivations before attempting to portray them in a story. I think that helps make them real for readers. At least, I hope so!

      Voted Up++ and a happy Monday to you!

      Jaye

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Good morning, Bill!

      I concur with the comments above about what an informative and well-written article you've presented us with. In adddition, I am thankful that you featured the enigmatic character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, certainly the very best example of man's complex nature, ranging from the brightest peaks to the darkest recesses. The writer/creator, Thomas Harris, was brilliant in his ability to take a despicable monster and give him elements that we, albeit reluctantly, perhaps, admire after a fashion. Regarding dialogue, and utilizing the same character, I'm enjoying the current television series that is superbly written because it features a protagonist who has a unique handle on the dark side strangely allied with the very psychopathic villain, gifted with elements we reluctantly admire and even envy, that he's pursuing. Cat and mouse conflicts seem to bring out the very best writing--and characters--in novels. Thanks for authoring this very intelligent and helpful Hub, Bill. Aloha, and have an enigmatic, multi-dimensional day, my friend!

      Joe

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      One time, after attending a book club meeting, my mom told me she didn't understand when authors say a particular character wanted to do x or say y. I didn't tell my mom that I completely understood because I thought she might find me crazy! I think your idea of conducting an interview is a spectacular one. How else will you find out about this individual?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia....that is my goal in writing these. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly, Lizzy! It is possible to develop a character without spelling it out in a longwinded description...it requires a little more work but it is so worth it.

      Thanks my Dunedin Dynamo....keep it real, girl!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      BNadyn, I am currently reading book # 15 that involves this one character that I have fallen in love with...the author did such a great job of making the character real that I just keep reading book after book after book.

      If I can ever develop a character like that one I will be a rich man. :)

      Thank you for visiting again.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love the idea of interviewing the characters in our stories! You are providing us with some wonderful tips in your hubs about writing, Bill. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I'm surprised Tweetie's on Facebook. I thought he'd rebel against that sort of thing. And this photo must have been before he shaved his head into a Mohawk. Either way, that's pretty much exactly how I pictured him to look!

      I read something from Writer's Digest or somewhere recently that had some advice from publishers on things that they hated to see. Long, boring descriptions of characters that take you away from the story and put you to sleep was one that I remembered because it's also a pet peeve of mine. It's more fun to get to know them as you read along.

    • BNadyn profile image

      Bernadyn 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      Great advice about needing to develop characters. I know with the books I enjoy reading, I've come to fall in love with the characters. It's true that readers want characters they can relate to and find likeable in some way. I like the tip about interviewing them and developing their personal story. Thanks for sharing!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! I always appreciate you and I hope you know that. Have a great day my friend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tipoague, we don't have to invent characters....just go out in public. LOL It's true....all the inspiration we will ever need is right outside our front door. :) Thank you for stopping by today my friend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric...Atticus? I would have thought Hannibal. :) As always, thanks for stopping by my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Elle! Those techniques have helped me over the years.

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      ElleBee 4 years ago

      You made a good suggestion on needing to give a character layers, and I thought your suggestion on interviewing your characters was a good one. Good way to get to know the characters you are creating, and introduce them to others.

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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wonderful advice. Really interesting. Atticus was in my nightmares for months after watching the movie at the drive in.

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      mjkearn 4 years ago

      Good Morning Sir Bill and Happy Monday

      Happy Monday God I'm losing it now. So let's see if I can be a good pupil and this will come as no surprise to you but in my school days I had a terrible time remembering where the school was. I know most people take this for granted but buildings can move. I know I saw it on the X-Files or Star Trek.

      So let's get a move on and see if I've got this right and cause you to change the underwear yet again.

      I'm not going to say that you find boring people in a church because that would be untrue and only cause a huge spike in traffic and complaints. But wait a huge traffic spike isn't that why I'm here?

      OK, OK, OK, I'll behave, well a little at least.

      So I should sit down with my character and conduct a serious interview. Perhaps a cup of coffee and a cup cake or I suppose in your world you would say: "No Silly, Try A Pen And Paper".

      So here's the question and you should know that I'm very happy with my one way conversations, talking to trees, engines and of course Coco though when she puts her paw over her nose I know I'm making progress.

      The question, yes, getting there, wow, chill, squeeze some more silicon sealant in your leaky writing den roof and have a cookie. You know you'll feel better.

      You know how hard I try to get this right but how on earth do I interview: Spiderman, Superman, The Wicked Witch of the North or Wonder Woman??????

      Actually if you have any contacts I really would like to interview Wonder Woman, Yummy, Yummy.

      So my characters should be a mix of a concrete foundation and a sponge cake to give depth and layers.

      You don't like John or Mary but "Big Buns Bertha" might fly.

      Wasn't Tweetie the little yellow bird that Road Runner chased for years with Acme Rockets.

      Now Sir Bill here's the problem that I'm having with these lessons and you do have to give me credit for turning up reasonably regularly. Just when I think I'm getting a handle on what's going on, you go and throw in the spanner. Yes sometimes I think this is deliberately for me but that's OK since you're a pal.

      I get all the way to the end, having taking numerous notes and then there it is the spanner. Why couldn't you have said at the start that it would be a good idea to like your character????

      BTW: I like Hannibal and OK he has an eating disorder and his idea of meat in the freezer isn't everybody's black eye remedy but we all got our problems Sir Bill. Besides I've got my own chain saw just in case he sends me a dinner invitation.

      Have a great day Sir Bill. It's time for my meds.

      MJ.

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      This is truly great advice Bill and like always I am pinning to refer back to as I continue to write and edit, too. Thanks as always and truly you really do offer such wonderful tips here!!

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      Tammy 4 years ago from USA

      I have enjoyed reading your writing tips and hubs. They are so informative and helpful. I was afraid to admit that I have found myself interviewing some of my characters for my stories. I couldn't help but laugh when you mentioned the lady you seen in public. I had a character pop into my mind one day when selling food at an auction. I forgot to hand a customer back their change when an elderly man stepped out of his vehicle. He was so outlandishly dressed that I couldn't help but think of a story character. Great pointers! I am bookmarking this one for the future! Thanks!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Eddy! You know, if you are ever in the mood to write a novel.....:)

      Sending you love and blessings

      billy

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, Tweetie really has a Facebook page. LOL How could you doubt me?

      Yes, you need to develop characters....this isn't a suggestion...it is a must if you are considering expanding and maybe writing a novel one day.

      Have a great week my dear.

      love,

      bill

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you can call me Billy Boy all you want....it brings back fond memories my friend.

      As for this hub, thank you! I think it is crucial that characters be developed so that we, the readers, can relate to them as real people. If not, we have to rely on the storyline to carry the book, and that's a huge task.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Walter, you are going to be great for my ego. LOL Thank you very much! Try a few of these suggestions...it is so important to develop those characters and make them lifelike.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, my favorite novels are character given, and I will read a whole series of novels just because of the main character. This aspect of writing is too important to ignore.

      Thanks as always my friend and have a great week.

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      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      I love this one Billy and as always full of handy tips;so a vote up and across.

      Have a great day.

      Eddy.

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      What insight you have provided in this article, Bill! I never thought of interviewing characters. I seem to model my characters after myself. I need to get out of that tight circle and expand my imagination. I think the hard part will be to picture the character, then work my way inside until I get to know him or her. That is definitely something I will have to work on.

      It's funny, I didn't picture Tweetie with wild hair 'up'; I pictured him more like a Maynard type, but older. (Does Tweetie really have a Facebook page?)

      Great tips, once again!

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      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Well, it looks like I may be the first to comment here but certainly won't be the last. Billy boy, this, to me, is the most helpful hub you've done on writing a story or a book (I know I shouldn't call you Billy boy but I am just so enamored of this darn hub). I've written three short stories but I don't think they have that 'umph' and now I know why!

      Your suggestions are just plain great! I love the idea of writing all those things about your character before you even begin. I now have visions of a character notebook. I could start writing about characters in my notebook and when I need them, voila, they will be ready and waiting and I can just pull them out!

      Thank you for yet another outstanding hub! Can I have a Billybuc character ;)

      Voted all the way across, except funny, and shared for sure.

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      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      A very timely hub for me, when I am in the midst of reading your other hubs on the art of writing and was wondering whether you had written one on characterization.

      It's often said that a novel should be character-driven. This hub is great. Instead of wading through pages and pages of information, you manage to capture the key points and more in one single hub. As a matter of fact, I have read most of the points before but the way you've written it, it is so much easier to relate to. I like your style of writing.

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I read a lot and love characters that are not in the mainstream of descriptions. I love when their personalities are slowly revealed through deeds and actions. not basic words. Some of my favorite authors describe the characters and I am not aware of descriptions but suddenly a most interesting character is born..I love when the character is described by another character in their own eyes. Great hub and certainly important for those writing novels.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzette, without a doubt, dialogue will help in mapping out a character. Great addition to this discussion and thank you!

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      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      Good, sound advice for creating characters for stories and novels. Another way to create good characters is through the dialogue. I find it much more interesting to reveal a character through dialogue than to 'tell' the reader what the character is all about. I like how you map out your characters. Good idea to write a history of the character. Thanks for sharing this with us!