Best Way to Develop and Build Characters

Welcome to the first post of 2019. I hope your holidays were fantastic.

I’m starting off the year by talking about characters. You can’t have a story without characters. No matter how hard you try, there are going to characters, human or not. Even if there is just a person describing a scene, that narrator is a character.

Stories have characters (duh obviously) but it can be difficult to create well-rounded characters that people enjoy reading. The key part of any character is to make them human. Now, that doesn’t mean they have to be human, they just have to act like a human. That means they have human ideas and characterizations and the like. They are driven by beliefs and dreams.

One of my favorite blog posts about character development is The Writing Cooperative article, How to Create Authentic and Powerful Fictional Characters written by Valerie Black. Click the link to read. It’s a good read.

As with the article I just shared, there are lots of archetypes for your main protagonist, which I will probably dedicate a blog to later on. For this blog, we are going to look more at how to build a character.

What’s in a name?

The first thing you need to do is figure out a name. Coming up with a cast list for your book is a good idea. As a rule of thumb, try to make your names as pronounceable as possible. Also, the names need to fit with your story. If you’re writing a story set in 17th century England, the name Payton is going to fit very well.

Now, I know, coming up with names can be difficult. It’s like naming a child. You want to make sure it works for them when they first come to fruition and when you write their last line. When push comes to shove, you can always use source material. Search online, grab a book, magazine, whatever you have around you to find names. Be careful not to accidentally use the same names in different stories that aren’t meant to have the same characters.

Another tip for names and this isn’t something that I do, but it is a good idea. Write out a long list of possible names for your story that way you will have some if a new character were to pop up. You never know when a random person will appear in your story.

But what will I wear?

Names are fine and dandy, but you still have to know what your character looks like. You need to know things like their age, height, weight, eye color, hair color, race, all those things.

It’s easy to come up with your character based on their social and educational status. The trick comes when they are from specific locals. If you are writing about people in Atlanta, Georgia, you need to know how those people act and speak. Unless you are going for something funny, you want to try to avoid stereotypes of what you think people sound like. That’s where research comes in.

Putting it all together.

You’re going to have characters that come together easily you know them down to their blood type. Then there will be others that you just have a mental image of. No matter how detailed you have your characters, you have to make sure you know them. If you don’t know them, you can’t convey their story. This is especially true if you write in a POV.

One great way to get to know your characters is to answer a bunch of questions from their point of view. This will put you in their mind so that you get to the essence of who they are.

Are they important?

Lastly, you have to figure out if the character gives to your story. Ask yourself what each of your characters mean to your story. This should be something you do for every character, no matter how long or short their time is in your story. All characters should grab your reader’s attention.

If a character isn’t adding something to your story, get them the hell out of there. It’s better to lose a character than make your readers stumble through a scene with confusing characters.

Now, this is by no means the end all be all information for character development. These are just three tips that can help you get started. We will look at more character development information in coming blog posts. But this should get you started.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

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