How I Handle Character Development
Character development is one of my favorite parts of the writing process, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. There are so many factors to consider; personality traits, physical appearance, role in the story, relationships to other characters, etc, and trying to put it all together can get overwhelming.
Overall, I think it’s important to take a step back and consider how a reader might view a character. Obviously, I have my own opinion of my characters, but readers can glean a different perspective, and while that’s often a good thing, it can also be a negative. What if your audience doesn’t find your hero/heroine relatable? What if your main character comes across as too “perfect?” What if they’re not rooting for your protagonist? What if your villain lacks defining traits besides being “evil”? Characters are the multi-layered heart of stories; they are the point of connection for readers, the ones who drive the plot forward and reach out to grab your audience and take them on a journey.
I do a lot of outlining when creating characters, which allows me to compile all of the details in one place. For every project, I make a list of my characters and jot down all of their traits (even insignificant ones) and outline their history and personal arc through the story, no matter how small their role is. Even details that don’t bear relevance to the plot help me form a concrete idea of what a character is like, what their motivations are, why they are prone to certain behaviors, or how they will act in certain situations. It’s handy to have a reference, and then it’s easy to swap out and alter details when changes to the story inevitably occur. Characters change and evolve with the plot and vice versa, and even minor characters, whether they have only a couple of appearances or a brief scene in one chapter, should be distinct. Even if it’s a fantasy story or set in a fictional world, characters must feel real on some level. They should have strengths and flaws, quirks that make them stand out, motivations and opinions, so that their actions will have an impact on the plot and on the reader. If readers identify with my characters in a meaningful way, I consider that a victory.
When fifteen-year-old Ciarán Morrigan eavesdrops on a conversation between his father and two mysterious strangers, his life—and the life of his little sister, Remiel—is changed forever. After their father makes a startling decision, the Morrigan siblings are forced to flee the only life they’ve ever known and embark on a dangerous adventure across the nation of Empirya. With the enlisted help of a disinherited vagabond, a cynical violinist, a fire-juggler with a fierce temper, an aspiring mechanic, and a cheerful librarian, Ciarán and Remiel must fight to escape the clutches of lethal pursuers. Their journey carries them through smog-filled cities, dark forests, humble towns, and perilous mountains, but will Remiel’s dark secret and ghosts from the past prevent the Morrigan children from finding a place they can truly call home?
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Also, if you’re a Game of Thrones fan you should totally follow her blog – Frostwritten her episode recaps are on point!!