A Whirlwind Guide to Character Development

A Whirlwind Guide to Character Development

Alright, you literary padawans! Gather ’round, it’s time to dive into the enchanting realm of character development. Have you ever wondered why some characters stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page, while others fade into oblivion quicker than a vampire in the midday sun? The secret, my friends, lies in pancakes! Okay, okay, not really. The secret lies in the magic of character development (and let’s be honest, pancakes also play an enormous role).


Imagine character development as the secret ingredient in your literary brew. It’s the process and execution of creating a fully rounded, complex, and lifelike character. Without it, your spell won’t work, and you’ll end up with a narrative as flat as a witch’s broomstick!


Understanding Characters

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty. What makes a well-developed character? Is it their devilishly good looks? Their stunning wit? Nope, it’s their backstory, their personality traits, their actions, and their emotions. Your characters need to be as complex and relatable as your noisy next-door neighbor. Your readers need to feel that your characters could walk off the page and into their local café.

Backstory is important for every type of character in every type of story. It’s what makes romance heroines relatable, or science fiction heroes poignant. But here’s the kicker: your reader probably won’t even KNOW all of it. But each line of backstory that you create fuels that character into making believable choices. So come up with the backstory because that’s what gives your characters the feeling of realism.

Think of an iceberg. You only ever see the very tip top, but there is a huge structure below the surface. That is where your backstory really lives. Spend the time to discover who your character is under the water and you’ll create a living entity. That won’t sink your unsinakble story.


In the grand theatre of your story, you’ll find two types of characters – static and dynamic. The static ones are like that old oak in your backyard. Solid, dependable, but unlikely to burst into song and dance. Dynamic characters, on the other hand, are like caterpillars turning into butterflies. They evolve, grow, and change as the narrative progresses. They have a character arc, which is the fancy literary term for their journey of change.


Creating Complex Characters

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. A few posts back I gave ya’ll my character map, and this is exactly the place to break it out. Because it will be invaluable in creating your characters. How do we create these fascinating, complex characters? Fasten your seatbelts, because here comes your step-by-step guide.

Create a Background for Your Characters: Imagine your character’s past as a treasure chest. It’s packed with gems that shape their interests, quirks, and fears. Delve deep into their childhood, their friendships, their hobbies, and their motivations. Remember, a character without a past is like a book without words.

Know Your Characters’ Strengths and Weaknesses: Understanding your character’s strengths and weaknesses is like having a map of their psyche. These will guide their actions, reactions, and decisions throughout your story. Is your character a charming smooth-talker or a timid wallflower? Either way, these traits will shape their journey.

Craft Realistic Motives for Your Characters: Motives are the engines that drive your characters. Whether it’s revenge, love, or the pursuit of the perfect cappuccino, make sure their motives are believable and relatable.

The Role of Characters’ Past in Their Development: A character’s past is like a ghost, always hovering in the background, influencing their present actions and decisions. Make your characters haunted by their past and watch them come alive!

Avoid “Perfect” Characters: Perfect characters are boring, period. Give your characters’ flaws, make them stumble, let them have bad hair days. Remember, perfection is overrated.

Give Characters Unique Features: Whether it’s a nervous tic, a funky style, or a peculiar accent, unique features make your characters memorable. It’s the cherry on top of your character creation sundae.

Develop a Variety of Character Personalities: Variety is the spice of life, and the same goes for your characters. Mix it up! Create a medley of personalities that will keep your readers on their toes.



Whew! That was quite the journey, wasn’t it? But as we’ve journeyed through the landscape of character creation together, we’ve discovered some truly fascinating insights, haven’t we?

In our exploration, we’ve understood that character development isn’t just a fancy term tossed around in writers’ circles. It’s the very soul of your story, the lifeblood that gives your tale its heartbeat. From defining what character development means to illustrating how it breathes life into a narrative, we’ve dug deep into the heart of what makes characters resonate with readers.

Characters, we’ve learned, aren’t just fictional constructs, but reflections of the human experience. They have strengths, weaknesses, backgrounds, and motives that make them who they are. They are as complex, unique, and multifaceted as the people we meet in our day-to-day lives. And just like us, they are shaped by their past, molded by their experiences, and driven by their dreams and fears.

We’ve also debunked the myth of the “perfect” character, understanding that perfection is not only unattainable but also unrelatable. Instead, we’ve emphasized the need for a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique personalities and voices, each bringing their own slice of life to the story.

But most importantly, we’ve learned that character development is not a one-off task, but an ongoing process. It requires patience, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of the human psyche. It’s an art that, when mastered, can transform a good story into a great one.

So, to all the authors reading this, remember: your characters are the heart of your story. Spend time with them, understand them, and let them grow. Because in the end, it’s the characters that readers fall in love with, the characters that they remember long after they’ve turned the last page.

So make your characters memorable, make them real, make them resonate. Because a story with well-developed characters isn’t just a story well told, it’s a story well lived. And isn’t that what great storytelling is all about? Now, I’m going to recommend one of my most favorite books about creating characters, Character and ViewPoint by Orson Scott Card. It’s a really great resource to really understanding the importance of creating really well-rounded characters.

Go Forth and Write


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