When I started editing my novel, the hardest thing to admit and resolve was how undeveloped my characters were. When I wrote the rough draft, I did a lot of freewriting and did not spend enough time on character development.
Since I already had a backstory and culture for my focal characters, I had to focus on the characters’ individual personalities and motivation. Below is a list of things I had to decide for each character:
- Temper – How easily does the character fly off the handle? What triggers his/her anger?
- Fear – How does the character handle fear (fight, flight, or freeze)? What is his/her biggest fear? What are some smaller fears?
- Happiness – What does the character do when he/she is happy (tell someone, sing, become quiet, cry, laugh, dance, jump, etc.)? What makes him/her intensely happy? What makes him/her mildly happy?
- Pain – How does the character handle pain? Does physical/emotional pain shut him/her down or inspire him/her to take action? Does the character become more or less logical when experiencing physical/emotional pain? Does the character admit he/she is in pain or deny it? Does the character embrace or even seek out pain, accept pain as part of life, or avoid pain at all cost?
- Physical mannerisms – What does the character do with his/her hands, face, and posture when feeling different emotions? How about when he/she is in a formal versus casual setting?
- Speech patterns – Does the character talk a lot or hardly at all? When the character speaks, does he/she ramble on, speak in concise sentences, or give one word answers? Which words, if any, does the character use a lot? Which words, if any, does he/she never use? How does the stress or formality of a moment effect the character’s word choice, pitch, and the speed at which he/she speaks?
- Desires – What does the character most want? What are some of his/her less important desires?
Another thing I had to do when I began revising my novel was to create backstories for my supporting characters. I have attached two articles with more good questions for fleshing out character bios.
“Novel Writing: 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Characters” by Brenda Janowitz: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/novel-writing-10-questions-you-need-to-ask-your-characters
“How to Create Character Profiles” by Harvey Chapman: http://www.novel-writing-help.com/create-character-profiles.html