Character Development

Okay, so maybe you are thinking “What on Earth is she doing posting about character development?’

Well you are right, and wrong.

I may not have a story published yet, but I do know a thing or two about character based stories.

There are many things that make a character good, and it is time someone set them down in a nice orderly fashion (not that others haven’t).

In a character driven story there is one major rule. Make the character identifiable to the reader. You have to make the reader feel like the character is like them, or at least like someone they know. So here are a few pointers in that direction.

1) Make the character strong. Now by this I don’t mean that the character has to be tough, macho or feminist. I mean the character has to have a strong voice and really has to touch the reader. My main character is actually pretty wimpy at the beginning of the novel. She is weak and runs from everything that crosses her path. By the end of the novel she finally stands up for herself and makes decisions that help her to stand strong in the face of adversity. This leads me to point

2) The character has to change and grow throughout the story. If your character doesn’t change, then what is the point of the story at all? This is especially important in character-based stories, like mine.

3) Give your character a voice. Make the reader understand why the character behaves the way she does and talks the way she does. If something she does makes no sense then the reader will be like “What the …(insert chosen word here)?” This disrupts the story and generally makes the reader put down the work. I have a bit of trouble with this because of my 1st person point of view. She doesn’t know why she is reacting to things because she is not in control. She is controlled by the parasite inside of her. It is hard to get that across while staying in character.

4) Watch out for over-describing the character. Let the reader fill in some details themselves. It is boring to read a detailed description of how a person looks, the clothes they wear, their hair color, eye color, physique etc. IF it is not CRUCIAL to the story. My MC has brown eyes, but that isn’t mentioned until they change color. That is an important trait, and her physique is suggested by the fact that she is a runner, but it is never spelled out. Suggesting physical traits is a great way to have the reader fill in the blanks. It doesn’t matter a bit, that she is wearing a pink tank top with purple pants. She could just as easily been in a long sleeve orange shirt with red capris. It just isn’t important.

5) I can’t reiterate the main point enough–Make your character identifiable! Who wants to read about someone who they can’t figure out? No one, that’s who. There HAVE to be some traits in your character that readers understand and can identify with.

There are more points I am sure, but these are the few I can think of offhand. Feel free to add any you know in the comments section!




Filed under character traits, characters, crit, critique, critiquing, editing, rules, voice, writing

3 responses to “Character Development

  1. DeanCRich

    Good points. I’d also add: give your character some flaws, I think you implied that but I just like to state the obvious sometimes!


  2. Character evolution is SO IMPORTANT–if I don’t feel connected to the MC, and care about what happens to him or her, I can’t finish the book. I get bored. I don’t htink there’s ANYTHING more important than a character who feels real. Great post!

  3. Good work, Sparrow. This is a good list. Keep it up! =)

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