Having a great idea or concept for a story or novel is a great start. But once the writer actually starts developing the story it becomes important to create strong, well rounded and interesting characters that will keep the readers attention and the pages turning.
Character Analysis, Background and Depth
When developing a character it’s important that the writer truly understand them. Consider these points to create characters that are more interesting and consistent:
- Occupation – How does she earn a living? Even if her work is not directly connected to the story, understanding what she does will help to make flat characters come off the page. Consider whether she hates her job or loves it. What was the motivation for taking the job? Is she passionate about her work or is it just a means to an end? How do her co-workers feel about her? Is she good at her job or does she just skate by? All of these things say something about her and how she lives her life.
- Family – Everyone has parents, even orphans. What are his parents like? Is he more like his father or his mother? Did he have a happy childhood? What skeletons are in the closet from his childhood? Does he have siblings? How have his siblings effected his outlook on life? Does he depend on them for support or is he the strong one that they come to for help? We are all products of our upbringing and it’s vital to understand the impacts when developing a strong character.
- Flaws – A key aspect to making a character intriguing is to understand and utilize their flaws. Everyone has flaws and no matter how amazing your bigger than life character is, they still need flaws or the read will not make a connection. Superman loses his power when exposed to kryptonite and he has a soft spot for Lois Lane that sometimes impairs his judgment. Without these physical and character flaws he would not be nearly as interesting. What underlying obsessions does she have? What physical or mental difficulty does she struggle with? Is she messy, disorganized, lazy or does she have a laugh that makes people cringe? Consider the flaws and use them in the story.
- Goals, dreams and aspirations – A character may have a great job and a great marriage but what are his true dreams and aspirations? Even very successful people still have mountains to climb and unrealized goals.
Round Characters are in the Details
Once the basics of a character are fully developed it’s a good idea to explore the details that make that character unique. Consider how he would answer these questions when fine tuning a character:
- What is his earliest memory?
- What is a dark secret that he has never shared with anyone?
- What is his true feeling about God and religion?
- What is his favorite food?
- What is his biggest fear?
- What would he say was the happiest day of his life?
- What famous person would he say he most admires?
- What would he do if he won the lottery tomorrow?
- Does he like cats or dogs better?
Performing a detailed analysis and outline for each of the main characters in a story will not only make the story more interesting but it often opens up new story lines and back stories. Keep the characters unique and interesting in your story writing and readers will want to read the story to see what happens.