Character Development: Don’t Paint your Characters in a Corner
The characters in a story are what move us, their struggles, flaws, weakness, personality. We hold tight to our chairs as they wiggle through endless roadblocks throughout the book. It is a must for the reader to be in love with your main characters, this will keep the reader flipping the pages to find out what’s next.
Character development builds Conflict Most of your main character will have to overcome several difficulties, guilt, shady past, lost love, etc. these attributes make your characters seem more real to the reader. These conflicts should be peppered through the story, don’t reveal everything at once about the character. Try to put your character in as many real life situations as possible.
Be Careful you don’t put your characters in a corner. Poor characterization especially psychological profiles can limit the character. The reader will come to expect the profile you have painted for them. Say Bob is a vial human being not capable of doing any good, so when he does it not really believable. Don’t give your characters such a narrow profile. Keep the reader guessing on the characters reactions and motives; build their profiles throughout the book. Have a good handle on your character’s traits. Make a list of all your characters with details; pretend you are describing one friend to another. How do they act around people, what does their voice sound like, how do the look. Doing this helps develop a deeper character that is more believable.
Inspiration for your characters can from the people you know, movies, books, especially people you don’t like. You can extract only the parts of that person you need for the type of plot you are writing.
Use the 5 senses when developing your character, in the scene what does he see, smell, describe the setting, what’s he doing with his hands, feet, what does he hear. In real life we are bombarded by all things going on around us, it would be rare we would be in total quite.
Who’s view point is it anyway? How is your character seeing things? Show, don’t tell. Use dialogue to tell what happening around your character. Sit down at the mall or park and listen to how people really talk. They don’t usually talk back and forth, not hopefully for long periods; this would become boring losing the reader’s attention.
How about that body language? Facial Expression especially eye contact, Personal space, Gestures, and Posturing. With some police departments and shows like “Lie to me” we are seeing how body language plays a big part in the person’s character. You can use any of these to make your characters more interesting.
On a final note, read your work out loud. You can catch more mistakes and hear flaws much better this way. Happy Writing!