Character development…Good and Bad

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One of my favourite thing to do as I write a novel is watching my characters develop on their own. I’ve been told I should do that prior to starting the story, but I find it more fun to do it this way. I’m a pantser, I don’t plot ahead of time. Besides, it helps me see a side of them I didn’t know they had.

In my current WIP, Charlie (female) and Mason are my two protagonists. I had an idea what they were like… kind-hearted, fun, loving, best friends. As the story evolved, I realized Charlie was impulsive, and she jumped to conclusions before knowing all the facts.

As I write the story, I sometimes look at the ceiling, thinking: where did that sentence come from? I’ve seen my protagonists do things totally out of character, and wondered what’s wrong with them. Charlie’s Plight began as a murder mystery, but at some point, the characters veered off the well-beaten path, and turned the story into a romantic suspense. HA! I have news for them. It’s going back to what it was in the first place.

When developing your characters, whether you do that ahead of time or while writing, remember they are people like you and me. Both good and bad things happen to them. They have talents and skills, but they have faults, and they have flaws. Yes, even in fiction, where the story is made up, characters need flaws. If they are too perfect, it will not ring true to your readers.

Think of the first time you went on a date. Everything was perfect. He held your hand, opened the door for you, pulled out your chair in the restaurant. Perfection could have been his middle name. Then, you got to know him. You noticed he had annoying habits (plural)! He pointed out yours too. No one’s perfect. Make them real.

They also need motivations, goals, and conflicts. They need something that will propel them (motivation) forward, from the start until the end (goal). However, it’s rarely ever smooth sailing from point A to point B. There’s got to be road blocks (conflicts) in their paths, something that will make it harder for them to reach that goal. I’m not talking about a small pothole. I’m talking about a barricade-size road block that could mean life or death if they’re unable to overcome that obstacle.

Another point that’s important is to make sure you create your characters differently. Make them unique. No two people react the same when in a predicament. Some are verbal. Others hold their emotions inside. Some literally go into shock and can’t move (I know someone like that) in a situation where a person could die. Make sure each character has their own personality.

One more important tip: Their name. Some are overused. Others are hard to pronounce. That can be a turn off because trying to figure out how to say it takes the reader “out of the moment.Be creative. Be original. Make it easy. 

How do you create your characters? Leave a comment below.

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