Character development for fiction writing is a well discussed subject.
I have searched all over, read all kinds books and articles with ‘tricks of trade’ on the subject.
It all boils down to a few key factors needed.
They are tried and true – have been the success of many great stories for centuries. Even before the written words, people told stories and they all had these qualities. From the character Ulysses of Homer’s Odyssey to Katniss of Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games – these common sense details for characters are needed.
Give him/her dimension by supplying a history, and personal nuances and quirks. They need goals and desires, and if we are to presume they are human, they must have some kind of regrets too. A detective may have a past accident that haunts his personal life – like the character of Jesse Stone in the series by Robert B. Parker.
Let the character deal with struggle.
In other words, no one is perfect, so a believable character can’t be either. Readers like to identify with a character that has problems just like them. Sometimes they fail along the way. Readers want to see how the character reacts. They want to feel excitement so put the perils against them, give them dilemmas, let them fall off cliffs (literally and figuratively). There are lots of great thrillers out there that work this magic like, author Karin Slaughter’s character Will Trent.
The reader needs to be interested in the character. Whether we love them or hate them, we need to have a reason to follow their journey. No one wants to read about someone who never interacts, reacts or have things happen to them. They need to keep our attention. We may have an introvert working from home, never leaves until she is thrust into the real world when something happens like the character in – The Net which was written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris. We may have man who has difficulties interacting with people but he is still a master mind – like the character of Adrian Monk, TV series created by Andy Breckman. We may have a boy who is an orphan, forgotten under the stairs, but he is destined for greatness – like Harry Potter from the series written by J.K. Rowling.
So you say – OK I can do that! Here’s the kick in the#### Yes we can all sit down and write out facts about a character, we can push our imagination and dream up all kinds of loveable, evil, strong, valiant, noble, artistic, genius, talented, depressed…characters.
BUT the hard part is putting these into the manuscript, a dribble at a time.
YOU may not struggle with this as a writer, but I unfortunately do. I re-work things to death until I think, Hey not so bad. Happy with the piece I walk away, thinking I’m a genius, LOL ONLY – To read it a week later and wonder What was I thinking!
Maybe this happens to you too…. I hope I am not alone. So my search continues to find ways to discipline myself .
To sprinkle instead of pour the character into the manuscript.
Keep reading and writing.