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Character Development


Writing an effective character is a skill that sets a work apart. Great characters can take your writing from good to prolific. Certain readers definitely are character-driven, and only one or two of your cast really have to inspire the imagination. Especially if you are writing fiction, character development is vital. So how do you write characters who can effectively elevate your writing?

Get to know your characters. Get into their heads and really rummage around in there. When writing the scenes, take a look at them from multiple angles. If need be, map out what is occurring. Each character is coming into the story with a life, if you want them to seem well-rounded. They have actions, reactions, thoughts, strengths, flaws, histories, and futures.

All of these things are fully within your control, as the writer. Effective writers know what their characters stand for, how they will react to events. For those who have played Dungeons & Dragons may be familiar with scene setting, character creation, and how to make a fun and interesting character. When writing, you are effectively doing the exact same.

When you put too many adventurers in one room, often you get murder. At least where D&D is concerned.

Once you have your character skeletons, make ’em dance. Each scene that your character is in, they should find themselves lending to the tale. Too many people in a scene becomes chaotic, confusing. Especially for a writer trying to keep track of them all. Who ideologically clashes with who? Are there too many egos in too small of a room? Perhaps this will come in handy. Particularly if you need a reason for a fight to ensue.

There are always situations that will call for going against the grain on all of this, as well. For example, if you set up three characters to ultimately be unreliable when the main character needs them to be. You may have had them stand-about in prior scenes, showing how they are always seeming to be there, but not being helpful in any way.

Character Development

Be aware of conflicting characteristics. If your character is making an ideological shift, you should probably find some way to make it make sense to the reader. You also want to avoid info-dumping your audience by focusing too much on attributes that will not likely come up in the story. Save those interesting tidbits for short exchanges between the characters, to reinforce their relationships to each other or the story.

Make them grow believably with the story you have planned. In our example of the main character who was left high and dry by their three friends, our main character navigates hurt and betrayal. You have an opportunity to build the main character while driving the character to meet others.

Knowing your characters allows you to use character development to show, not tell, why your character behaves the way that they do. Villains and antagonists almost exclusively rely on this, and fall flat when they are not given character. Have a great foil for your protagonist, and you have the core of a great story.

Focus on the relationships and how they grow. It does not need to be overt, flowery, written to death. Let’s take up that example again. One of the three friends may return to aid in a future issue, feeling guilt and concern for the protagonist, furthering your story that way. Well written characters will be adaptable, just as people are.

Happy writing, and we hope all your characters practically write themselves. Today’s prompt is to write an event from the perspective of three separate characters, as well as a narrator. Follow and like for more writing tips and prompts, as well as spiritual and technological topics ~

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