Character Development

Hello everyone!

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:

  1. Temper – How easily does the character fly off the handle?  What triggers his/her anger?
  2. Fear – How does the character handle fear (fight, flight, or freeze)?  What is his/her biggest fear?  What are some smaller fears?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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:

“How to Create Character Profiles” by Harvey Chapman:

Happy writing!