This post was written specifically for the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop.
There are a number of elements that go into crafting a good story/novel/series; plot(s), setting(s), conflict and, of course, good characters. So how do you go about creating a good character?
Here are some of the ways you can develop a character:
- Everybody should have something that makes them unique.
It might seem obvious, but since every person is different, every character should be different too. What makes them different could something obvious; an accent or way of speaking, a physical characteristic, race or ethnicity; or it could be something deeper. They might have a need to always prove themselves right or they might be a duplicitous back-stabber unable to remain allied with anyone other than themselves.
- They shouldn’t be only the above.
Who do you know that is only the one thing? It’s all very good giving a character something distinctive but you can’t stop there. A good character should have several layers to them. And they don’t have to line up exactly. The best way I can think of putting it is to quote Hannibal by Thomas Harris; “one quality in a person doesn’t rule out any other quality.” So your character might be a brutal killer, but they’re also really kind to their pets.
- Give them strengths and flaws.
Similarly, no-one’s good at everything and no-one is unless at everything. Everybody has a talent and everybody has a weakness. Your characters should be the same.
- Let them change and grow.
The events we go through every day help shape us with a constant trickle of experiences. The events of your novel should have the same effect on your characters. They may only change a little, they may change a lot but they have to change somehow. Stasis is boring.
- Give them goals.
Everybody wants something. At the goals you give your characters can cover as wide a range as you like. Some might just want to get through the day and get home to their family. Some might want to crush their enemies and become the new supreme ruler.
- Give them conflict.
What do you want to put in the way of them reaching their goals and what are they going to do about it? Giving them something to struggle against will make them more real. Will they over come and, if so, how? Will they fail and how will they cope with that? Either is going to expand on their personality.
- Connect them to each other.
No-one exists in a vacuum. Characters should bounce off each other. Explore how they react to one another; some will get along and some won’t. You can also have characters have a history with each other from before your story begins. It might have nothing to do with your plot as it is but it will affect their interactions going forward…
I’m sure there are many other things you can do or use to flesh out your characters. Let me know in the comments if you have any favourite ways of developing yours.
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