You’ve done it. There is a character staring back at from through all the words you’ve written. After hours of writing and planning and thinking you have a character and they are…flat.
I know, I know. You tried so hard to make them something great but they just aren’t all there. Something is missing. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there and we will all be there again at some point. It’s okay. Here are three tips that can help you develop your character more.
This method is my personal favorite. I have developed so many characters, plot points, backstories, and worlds using this method. With role playing, you and another author take turns creating a story with your respective characters either in your world, their world, or another world entirely. Usually something like a simple chat room, messenger, or texting works well for this.
The point of this method is to put your characters into situations they wouldn’t be in while in their own story. There is a great advantage to your characters meeting other characters you aren’t controlling. It helps the interactions flow in a more natural manner.
Plot holes you didn’t even realize existed, or backstory questions you hadn’t considered, will be revealed when role playing with another person.
I like to call this one personal fan-fiction, because that’s essentially what you are doing. With this method, you are writing little short stories where you put your character into a different situation or world. By exposing them to new situations, you are broadening their behaviors and mode of thinking. I have often found that likes and dislikes come up the most in these situations.
That’s how I found out that one character I used to have couldn’t sing but plays the flute. I also learned what sort of dog they would have if they bought one. More of her personality came out when she defended someone, by hitting the bad guy with her flute case. Had I not written that short story, I never would have known that she was capable or willing to step forward like that.
Of course, if you do like writing fan-fiction, you can always insert your characters into other stories. It is essentially the same thing, with half of the work already done. You already have the world, now all you have to focus on is your characters.
This could perhaps be the most nerve-wracking of the suggestions. You literally have to let others read your flat and uninteresting character. Yes, I know that you don’t want anyone to read such a thing, but as readers they can offer suggestions about how to improve your character.
If they are willing to read your story, just ask them to give you some feedback and advice on the character you have created. I know that some of the advice will probably feel a bit harsh and very personal, but just sit back and read the or listen to the comments again the next day. Remember, you don’t have to take the advice if you don’t think it will help. But do at least keep an open mind about them.
Okay, folks, that’s about it in terms of character development. I wish you all the best in your future writing and I wish your characters the best with what you’ve got planned for them. 😊
What are your favorite ways to develop your characters?