Keys to character development

Keys to character development

As you work up your book or novel, it is important to have in mind that a checklist or worksheet is an important part of the character development process.

First, having a checklist will help you to narrow down everything you need for the characters and the life that will be built around them. The power a worksheet holds is to help in creating timelines for when you need to have the deadlines ready and the work rolling. I would recommend creating a Gant Chart from Microsoft Excel; it is easy, fun and will literally make it very easy to follow through your work. Gant charts can also be amended when you want to tweak the timelines and it just makes the whole process so much easier and smoother.

When you finally get to developing your characters, look into their physical appearance. For example, what is the age group? What is your characters eye colour? Do they wear glasses or contact lenses? What is the hair colour of your character? What is the most predominant feature they have; could be a scar, or a tooth gap, freckles on the cheeks, a tattoo perhaps and so on.

It is important to note down one aspect and break it all the way down till you cannot break it any further. For example, say we have a character named Susan (no offence to anyone named Susan who might be reading this, and also, no, this is not from a personal experience), does Susan have an attitude? If she does, when is she most at ease? What helps her be in a better mood sometimes? Is it watching her favourite show, having some ice cream, going for a night stroll and so on. Help your reader really get into knowing Susan as a “real” person. What are her priorities too? If she was to be granted one wish, what would it be?

The background of the character can also help in building more on their development. You can describe the type of childhood they have/had, a childhood event that still affects him/her, what is their education background? And what is their hometown?

Relationships with the family are also a building block to your character. For example, does he/she have parents or guardians? You can describe their relationship and say whether they are close or not to the extended family.

Remember to build your character as you write by describing them fully. For example, what do your subjects smell like, sound like and feel like. If you were to kiss them, what do they taste like? Mint, coffee, strawberries?

You can choose to say, “he rolled his big, sparkling blue eyes and looked at the sky”, instead of saying, “he had big, blue eyes.”

Also show how your main character(s) confronts the external/internal challenges that face him/her. Challenges or conflict is necessary for plot. These help your story to move, jump, run, skip and jump! If they are not present, your story just lies there. After this, you can show how your character has changed because of the challenges they confront.

Building characters is fun, all you need is creativity, strong will and focus, then… voila!