How to Develop Characters for a Story
Characters are the basis for a story. Sure, there’s the world they’re in, the situation, but ultimately it’s characters that drive the whole story forward. How else would a war start in a fictional story? Basically, characters are important for a story. And developing their personalities is a necessity, otherwise you’ll be stuck with blank characters that aren’t fun to read or fun to write.
So here are five different ways to make your characters unforgettable that are a necessity for any writer to know.
Make Them Stop and Think
You wouldn’t just go running into danger or an adventure without stopping to think so why would any character in a story? Basically, you can’t have your characters just dive head first into an adventure without giving them a moment to think about it or a good reason why.
So when writing them, take a moment to think yourself. Is what the character doing now something you would do without thinking about it? Or is it something a little more questionable. Always make sure to have your characters think things through like a normal person would. It adds quite a bit of believability to them, and will make them much more interesting to read about.
Give Them Strong Opinions
Everyone has an opinion about everything. Some of us like roller coasters and some of us don’t. So following that logic, any characters of yours will have opinions too. Otherwise they’ll just be one dimensional.
So you need to make sure that your characters have opinions. About important stuff, and unimportant stuff. Make sure they express them. Make sure they actually sound like they care about them. After all, if you really care about something you’re not going to just mention it once or say something about how important it is and then move on.
Have Them Take Risks
How often do you play everything safe? How often do you not take risks? The answer to questions like that are usually never. It’s a fact of life that people need to take risks to get places. That they don’t play it safe the whole time.
It should be the same for your characters. To develop unforgettable characters for a story, you need to make them take risks. It adds adventure to a story, and makes the characters seem more relatable, especially when people see that the characters have to take risks like normal people.
To make your characters seem even more real, have some of the risks end badly. Maybe they lose a bet. Maybe they lose some money. Maybe someone dies
Befriend the Ambiguity
You don’t have to explain everything about a characters, leave them ambiguous. After all, in the real world we don’t know everything about everyone we meet. It’s okay to leave out some stuff. And if you need to include information about your main character, then don’t include useless stuff.
Adrian was a short person, about 5’ 6”. He had yellow hair, almost like the color of a marker. He had a large nose too. He wore dark jeans and a long black t-shirt with a band pictured on the front. If it weren’t for the blonde hair, he would be a perfect goth.
He like to read book. His favorites were To Kill a Mockingbird and Wuthering Heights. He also like to eat pepperoni pizza.
He had a mom and a dad. He also had a older sister who was a cheerleader at the high school, where he went.
As you can see, almost none of this information would be useful in a story. Sure, the descriptor of him and his interests might, but delivered in a much less detailed method. Here is a better way to write this:
Adrian walked down the street. Almost on impulse he looked up at the stores he was walking by, and saw his reflection in the windows.
He was a short boy, much shorter than any of his classmates. It was a source of constant abuse for him. He also had a large nose, the type that drew people’s attention to it, and not in a good way. Really, the only thing he liked about his appearance was his bright yellow hair, although it did clash massively with his dark, almost goth, clothing.
Suddenly his eyes fell on a clock inside the store. It was almost 6! He needed to be home an hour ago. His parents would kill him if he missed his older sister’s party.
As you can see, this passage gives us almost as much detail as the first, but it is necessary detail rather than knowledge about his favorite books.
So there you have it. It’s important to leave plenty that isn’t important up to the imagination.
Don’t Overlook Everyday Chores
Real people do daily stuff. They take showers. They go to the store. They brush their teeth. They talk to people. They drive cars. They cook food. By adding this into your narrative it adds a degree of complexity and believability to your characters.
Now, you don’t have to go into detail, and include a whole daily routine. Just add a mention of it. Maybe have your character remember to go buy toothpaste at the store, and at the store is where they remember something key to the main storyline. Or while having a conversation at work with an acquaintance an idea to solve the problem in the main plot occurs to them.
Remember, not everything will be interesting to you or your readers, so try to make these sections short. And even if you can’t stand them, the idea of something normal happening in an adventure, it’s important, so try to include at least one instance.
There you have it. Five steps guaranteed to make any character less one-dimensional, more interesting, more relatable, and more entertaining. And always remember, if you don’t like how a character acts, then neither will someone reading your story. Unless a character is a villain, you don’t want to draw negative attention to them.