Developing Character

Creating unique and multi-dimensional characters is hard. It’s easy to try to categorize the stars of your story as “the cute one,” “the secretly sensitive bully,” “the cranky, goth older sister.” Please refrain from doing so.

Be careful about writing your characters off of real life people too. It might seem amazing to just write down everything about your brooding classmate or wacky cousin but it can also limit your book. There’s a difference between fiction and reality–fiction has to make sense. You need to know more about the motivations of your characters than you do of the people in your life. They have to grow and change, be active and act accordingly to their personality. Not every real person is like that though.

To check how developed your character is, consider doing a mock interview of them. It’ll give you the basic details while also covering more interesting and provocative territory that can give you the kind of responses which catapult your character from forgettable and predictable to memorable and relatable. If you’re having difficulty answering these questions, then you know that your character is not ready to be “hired” and needs more work.

Here are some questions I like to use: (not sure where I got these from, but I adjusted them to fit my needs, which you can too!)

  • What religion/beliefs do you follow?
  • What are your dreams/life goals?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What do you like/love?
  • What do you dislike/loathe?
  • What are your fears?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your good qualities?
  • What are your bad habits?
  • What are your turn ons?
  • What are your turn offs?
  • What is your happiest moment?
  • What is your saddest moment?
  • What is your major goal?
  • Why is this goal so important to you?

Are there any events in the your past that affect the significance of this goal?
  • Describe your life till now, motivations, family situation, pet peeves–anything that comes to you:
  • What is the one thing in the world you would do anything to avoid? Why? What have you already done to avoid this? What do you plan on doing in the future to avoid it?

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