To create believable and interesting characters, writers need to develop them fully. The writer must know everything about them – their backstory, motivations, fears, and hopes. It also means imagining what they would do in any given situation.
By creating a detailed character profile, writers can ensure that their characters are three-dimensional and realistic. They can also use this information to help them plot scenes and decide the best course of action for their characters.
Here’s how to develop a character.
1) Developing The Backstory
The backstory is the character’s history to the point where the story begins. It includes their family history, where they grew up, formative experiences, and anything else that has shaped who they are.
Creating a detailed backstory can help the writer understand their characters better and make them more believable. It can also give the character a richer history and make them feel more real.
However, it is important to remember that not all of the backstory needs to be revealed to the reader. Sometimes it is better to keep some of it hidden. This can create mystery around the character and make them more intriguing.
Follow these steps to develop the backstory for your character.
1. Write down everything you know about the character’s family. This includes their parents, grandparents, siblings, and any other relatives.
2. Where did they grow up? What was it like there?
3. What were some of the most important events from their childhood? How did they react to them?
4. What did they learn from their parents and other role models?
5. What kind of education did they have?
6. Are there any experiences from their past that have shaped who they are today? This can include anything from a traumatic event to a life-changing moment.
7. What are some of the things they are most proud of?
8. What do they regret?
9. What are their hopes and dreams for the future?
10. Write down anything else you can think of that might be relevant to their backstory. This can include their hobbies, interests, and anything else that makes them who they are.
2) Developing Motivations
Every character has a motivation that drives them and gives them a reason to act. This can be as simple as wanting to get home to their family or as complicated as avenging a loved one’s death.
Understanding a character’s motivation can help the writer make them more believable and relatable. It can also help to move the story forward by giving the character a goal to strive for.
There are many different ways to develop a character’s motivation. One method is to create a detailed backstory that includes formative experiences that have shaped who they are. Another is to have the character experience something in the story that changes their motivation.
For example, a character who starts out wanting to get home to their family may change their heart after meeting someone in need of help. Their motivation is to save this person, even if it means sacrificing their own safety.
It is also important to consider what motivates the other characters in the story. This can help to create conflict and make the story more interesting.
Follow these steps to develop a character’s motivation.
1. Write down everything you know about the character. This includes their backstory, personality, and any other relevant information.
2. What are their goals? What do they want to achieve?
3. What are their fears? What are they afraid of?
4. What do they value most in life? This can be anything from their family to their freedom.
5. What motivates them to act? This can be something external, like a goal, or internal, like a fear.
6. Write down anything else you can think of that might be relevant to their motivation. This can include their beliefs, values, and any other relevant information.
7. Consider what motivates the other characters in the story. How do their motivations conflict with the main characters? What kind of obstacles will they face as a result?
3) Developing Fears and Hopes
Fears and hopes are two more important elements that can help to make a character seem more real. Everyone has fears, whether rational or not, and these can play a big role in shaping a person’s behavior. On the other hand, hope gives people something to strive for and can be a powerful motivator.
When developing a character, it can be helpful to consider their fears and hopes. This can help to make them more relatable and give them added depth. It can also help to move the story forward by giving the character a goal to strive for or something to overcome.
There are many different ways to develop a character’s fears and hopes. One method is to ask yourself what they would be afraid of in a given situation. For example, if your character is about to go on a first date, they may be afraid of rejection or of saying the wrong thing. If they are about to go into a job interview, they may be afraid of not getting the job or screwing up the interview.
You can also ask yourself what they hope for in a given situation. For example, if your character is going on a first date, they may hope it goes well and find a connection with the other person. If they are going into a job interview, they may hope to get the job or at least make a good impression.
Another way to develop a character’s fears and hopes is to think about what they want in life. What are their goals and aspirations? What do they hope to achieve? These can be long-term goals, such as finding a partner or getting a promotion, or short-term goals, such as doing well on a test or getting through the day without any major mishaps.
Once you have an idea of your character’s fears and hopes, you can start to work them into the story. This can be done by having the characters act on their fears or by having them try to achieve their hopes.
For example, Monica is writing a story about a character going on a first date. She decides that her character’s fear is rejection, so she has the character spend the entire date worrying that the other person will reject them. This leads to the character saying and doing awkward things, ultimately leading to the date being a disaster.
On the other hand, if Monica’s character’s goal is to find a connection with the other person, she might have the character focus on trying to find common ground and getting to know the other person better. This could result in a more successful date.
In either case, by considering the character’s fears and hopes, Monica can create a more believable and relatable character. She can also use this information to help plot the story and decide on the best course of action for her character.
4) Developing a Character’s Personality
One of the most important aspects of developing a character is giving them a personality. This will help determine how they think, feel, and react to different situations. To get started, ask yourself the following questions:
– What is this character’s history?
– What are their likes and dislikes?
– What motivates them?
– What do they fear?
– How do they interact with others?
Once you better understand who your character is, you can start to flesh out their personality. Consider their values, beliefs, and attitudes. What kind of person are they? Do they tend to be optimistic or pessimistic? Are they introverted or extroverted? Do they like to take risks or play it safe?
For example, let’s say you’re developing a character for a novel. You might give them the following personality traits:
– Risk taker
Now, let’s say you want to write a scene where your character is faced with a difficult decision. Because they are optimistic, they might see the glass as half full and believe things will work out in the end. Because they are outgoing, they might reach out to others for advice. And because they are a risk taker, they might be more likely to take a chance on something new.
5) Developing Physical Appearance
In addition to personality, it’s important to consider a character’s physical appearance. What do they look like? Do they have any distinguishing features? How do they dress?
For example, let’s say you’re writing a story set in the 18th century. You might give your character the following physical traits:
– Wears a powdered wig
– Dresses in elaborate clothing
– Carries a sword
These physical traits can say a lot about a character. For instance, the powdered wig might indicate that they are wealthy or have an important position. The sword could be a symbol of their power or authority.
It’s also important to consider how a character’s physical appearance might change over time. For example, if your character is going through a tough breakup, you might have them start to neglect their appearance. They might stop showering, wear wrinkled clothes, and let their hair get greasy.
On the other hand, if they just landed their dream job, they might start to take more pride in their appearance. They might buy new clothes, get a haircut, and start wearing makeup.
Changes in physical appearance can be a great way to show how a character feels on the inside.
6) Naming Your Character
Once you better understand your character’s personality and appearance, it’s time to give them a name. The name you choose can say a lot about a character.
For example, the name “Catherine” might indicate that a character is traditional and conservative. The name “Bianca” might make a character seem more outgoing and extroverted.
Of course, you don’t have to choose a name that indicates a certain personality trait. But it can be helpful to consider how the meaning of a name might add another layer to your character.
When choosing a name for your character, you might also want to consider the period and setting of your story. For instance, if you’re writing a historical fiction set in the 19th century, you might want to choose a name that was popular during that period.
Choosing a name is an important step in developing your character. But don’t spend too much time agonizing over it. If you can’t think of the perfect name right away, don’t worry. You can always come back and change it later.
7) Developing Character Relationships
Once you better understand your character, it’s time to start thinking about their relationships with others. Who are the people in their life? How do they interact with them?
Consider your character’s family, friends, coworkers, and romantic partners. What role do they play in your character’s life? How does your character feel about them?
For example, let’s say you’re writing a story about a woman named Anna. Anna might have the following relationships:
– Mother: She is very close to her mother and confides in her about everything.
– Father: She is distant from her father and doesn’t share much with him.
– Best friend: She is close to her best friend and tells her everything.
– Boyfriend: She is in a new relationship with her boyfriend and is still getting to know him.
These relationships can be a great way to add depth to your character. They can also help you advance the plot of your story.
For instance, you might use Anna’s relationship with her father to explore the theme of family dynamics. Alternatively, you might use her relationship with her boyfriend to show how she deals with new and challenging situations.
Developing a well-rounded and believable character can be a challenge. But by taking the time to consider their personality, appearance, and relationships, you can make sure that your character is three-dimensional and realistic.
Remember that you don’t have to figure out everything about your character simultaneously. As you continue to write, you’ll learn more about them. So don’t be afraid to change things as you go.