One of the most fun aspects of writing…besides spending the day in my imagination is the time I devote to character development. I LOVE this process. From finding the ‘perfect’ name, deciding what they look like to defining all the aspects of their personality.
It may be fun but it’s also important because it helps you develop interesting and compelling characters whose jobs are to help drive the plot of your novel. And, to do this as the novel’s creator you need to know what motivates your characters. You also need to have characters who are believable AND memorable. Characters who readers want to invest their time in so they will actually read beyond the first few pages of your book. Yes, character development is important.
Character Development Tools
If you google ‘novel character development’ you will be inundated with tips— 207,000,000 to be exact. There are templates, questionnaires, worksheets and charts—holy smokes—it’s OVERWHELMING. Bear in mind what works for one writer, may not work for another. There is no right or wrong process you need to find what works best for you.
Personally, I like to keep it simple and I’ve found that a character development chart works best. For each character, I brainstorm following elements.
If your brainstorming has come to a screeching halt, here is a link to tool that I think is great. WD Character Development Cheat Sheet
Upon completion of this process, you have a clear picture of who your characters are and how they will behave so you can write them accordingly.
The Good, The Bad & the Ugly
If I may add…to ensure your characters are memorable you should include the good, the bad and the ugly personality traits. You want your characters to be multi-dimensional; after all no one is perfect and besides perfect would be boring.
One of the most memorable characters I’ve had the pleasure to create was Isra from Beauty Beneath the Banyan. She is a strategic woman who was in prison for murdering her husband. Certainly, not close to my personality which was what made her so 'fun' to write.
Who was your favourite character to write?
Character Development at its Best
Alan Bradley is a master at character development. Here's an excerpt from his novel The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: