How To Develop Characters

Feb 4, 2020

Character development is arguably one of the most important parts of a story next to the plot. It is a unique way of storytelling that enables the writer to take the time to really work on showing the human side of a character. Also showing motivation and other qualities of the story’s protagonists and antagonists, are great ways to pull the reader in, and create a more diverse atmosphere.

Here are some things that you should consider when learning how to develop characters

Parental Relationship

Think of all the successful comic book characters out there that have parental problems. Batman, Spiderman, Superman just to name a few all have lost their parents. Look at Batman more directly, the deaths of his parents prompted him to becoming the crime fighting vigilante detective that we all love today.

Vices

Maybe your character has weird vices. Addicted to sushi, or maybe they don’t go outside in the sunlight. Maybe your character is a vampire and hates garlic.

Pet Peeves

What drives your character up a wall? Ex: Timmy really hates when his math teacher grinds her teeth while grading tests.

Routine

What’s the normal daily structure for your character? Does he wake up every morning feeling like P.Diddy? Kiss his wife, eat his pancakes, go to work, come home for dinner, sleep, and do it all over again the next day? Until one faithful night…

Strongpoint

Describe your characters strongest features. Ex: Bold, strong, and loyal to a fault, that was the best way to describe Dennis, the all-star quarterback for the Silver Sands Fighting Turkeys.

Nickname

Nicknames are a great way to add a little bit of depth to your characters. Actually, any additions like adding hobbies, things like favorite foods, movies, and other bits of knowledge are great ways to increase the development of your characters. Ex: “Hey it’s the Boy Wonder!” a child who recognized Dick without his mask on yelled out across the bus.

It’s always important to remember that when you are working on character development, although your number one concern is the parts of your character that is poignant to the story, that shouldn’t be your only focus. Virtually anything about your character is worth writing down, sometimes some of the quirkiest little details for a character that you may have thought would never work out, could add some exciting little element to your story later which could increase the depth of your writings.

A great practice to keep in mind when creating a lot of characters is to consider creating a character database. You could do this on your computer, in a notebook, even on a spreadsheet if you wanted to get really serious about it.

Here is a good exercise to learn how to develop characters

Try listing multiple characters, and come up with a set of attributes for them.

For example:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Hobbies
  • Hair color
  • Favorite food
  • Hidden secret skill

and then go down the list and fill them all in for each and every character. Doing this will not only help you practice your character development skills, but it will also provide you with a comprehensive glossary to all your characters in your story’s universe!

Note that this is also great for having a reference to look off of when you’re writing to remind you of key character traits that you may want to incorporate in your story!

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