Developing characters for a novel can be a challenging but rewarding task for a writer. It requires a deep understanding of who these characters are, what drives them, and how they will interact with other characters in the story. Here are ten practical approaches that can help writers bring their characters to life:
1. Start with the basics. Before diving into the specifics of a character’s personality and backstory, it’s important to establish their basic characteristics such as age, gender, occupation, and physical appearance. This will help you visualise the character and build a foundation for their personality and motivations.
2. Give them a goal. Every character should have a clear goal or desire that drives their actions in the story. This goal should be specific and achievable, and it should change and evolve as the character grows and develops throughout the story.
3. Give them flaws. No one is perfect, and the same is true for your characters. Giving your characters flaws and weaknesses makes them more relatable and human, and it also creates opportunities for character development as they work to overcome these flaws.
4. Build their backstory. A character’s past experiences and relationships can have a big impact on who they are and how they behave in the present. Take the time to think about your character’s history and how it has shaped them into the person they are today.
5. Consider their relationships. Characters don’t exist in a vacuum – they have relationships with other characters that can influence their behaviour and development. Think about how your character interacts with others, and how these relationships might change over the course of the story.
6. Make them dynamic. Static characters who don’t change or grow throughout the story can be boring for readers. Instead, try to create dynamic characters who are constantly evolving and learning from their experiences.
7. Give them a unique voice. Each character should have their own distinct voice and perspective, whether it’s through their thoughts, dialogue, or actions. This will help make them stand out and feel like fully realised individuals.
8. Use dialogue effectively. Dialogue is a powerful tool for revealing a character’s personality, motivations, and relationships. Pay attention to how your characters talk to each other, and use it to reveal important details about their personalities and histories.
9. Show, don’t tell. Instead of simply telling the reader about a character’s traits and motivations, try to show them through their actions and dialogue. This will help bring the character to life in a more meaningful and believable way.
10. Don’t be afraid to make changes. Characters are never set in stone, and it’s okay to make changes or adjustments as you continue to work on your story. If something isn’t working or feels off about a character, don’t be afraid to go back and make changes until you feel that they are fully realised and integral to your story.
Developing strong, dynamic characters is an essential part of any successful novel, and these ten approaches can help writers create fully realised, three-dimensional characters that readers will love.