Thursday, 29 September 2011

Character Development

Character development is a different process for every writer.

How do you develop a character? How do you make them real, or three dimensional?

To develop a character a writer needs to be inside their head. In order for me to do this I need to write a character biography. In the beginning of a novel I write only the basics about my characters. But after a few chapters, I need to go back and add to their biographies. I ask questions about their background. Who their parents are? Do they have any brothers or sisters? Where they live? What they do? Are they happy and if not, why?

I interview them. This can be tricky because you have to answer the questions as your character. At times it can get confusing, but can also be fun.

By the end of the bio process I generally have four to five pages for each character.

As a writer you must understand your character. What would they say in certain situations? How would they act if caught in a dilemma? I always use the Who, What, When, Where and Why format when writing anything. I never stray from it while developing good characters and plot.

If your character is not believable to you, he will not be believable to your readers.

If you have a character who doesn’t behave the way he is supposed to, your reader will begin to question his integrity. This is a sure fire way to pull the reader from your book. AND you don’t want that. The rule also applies to plot. The story must be believable to be accepted by your readers.

A three dimensional character has all three things: thoughts, emotions and actions.

If I was to write:
John left for work in a hurry.
This statement doesn’t give the character any dimension. All it tells you is that he left for work in a hurry.

However, to write it this way does:
John woke to the sound of his alarm clock. He rolled out of bed, grabbed his ironed grey suit, and quickly dressed. With one shoe on, he headed out the door. “Damn, my boss is going to kill me.”
This adds dimension, it gives the reader insight into John’s character by showing his actions, emotions, and thoughts.

Your characters are going to evolve as your story does, but what makes them desirable is that they are real.


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