English Grammar Blog

Character Development Tips

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A very important aspect of any sort of creative writing is developing believable characters to populate your stories. While this can seem daunting if you don’t have the proper tools, by adhering to the following character development tips, you will soon be well on your way to crafting believable characters.

The first step to developing your character is to ask these questions: What does he/she want? How does this person’s desires affect the story’s plot and the people around him/her? By deciphering this person’s desires, you’ll be able to get the story rolling.

The second step is to figure out who your character really is. This could begin with such obvious things as their appearance. What do they look like? What is their full name? These details will lead to more pertinent points about the character’s innermost self. What are their vices? The things they love? Their personal history prior to the story? What relationships have affected who they are today?

If you’re having a problem developing a character, take the time to people-watch. Observe the individuals around you. Look into your own family and friends for inspiration. One little detail is often enough to get you going.

Once you have a basic profile of your character, think of them with your story in mind. How do they fit in this world you’ve created? How do they deal with obstacles, particularly the ones they will face once the story begins. By keeping these thoughts at the forefront, you’ll be able to start planning out what is called a character arc: the way a character changes and grows throughout the events of the story. By working out this character arc, you will be able to see the details of your story even more clearly than when you first began.

As you plan, make sure your character is dynamic, not static. A dynamic character grows and changes throughout the story, while a static character remains the same. Think of the characters in some of your favorite books or short stories. Do they grow with the story, or do they remain the same? More often than not, the most interesting characters evolve as a story progresses.

You may develop these characters with excruciating detail and plan their actions from start to finish, but one essential aspect of character development is letting your characters loose in the world of your story. As you write, you may find that your character is moving in an entirely different direction than you had planned. Stop a minute and question if the move is realistic, both to the character and to the world he/she’s in. If it makes sense, go with it. Part of being a good literary “parent” is letting your characters go and develop on their own.

If you’re still having problems developing your characters, do some research to find ready-made character profiles. These lists of pertinent questions can serve as a guide and will help you develop your characters till they reach their full potential.

Posted in: English Writing

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