Developing A Character

For me, developing a character isn’t about using character sheets. It is neither about using spreadsheets. Both those methods never worked for me and for me, if you are a writer who finds yourself doing badly at it, then this is a post for you. 

When I write characters, to develop them, I usually use these three methods. Which I always find interesting, as it highlights and interesting aspect of a certain character. Or a certain reason why they carry around certain objects, chooses to dress in a certain way. 

To me, characters sometimes cannot be left to a structured street. It has to be organic, free of any influence at all. And here’s what I do. 

#1 Write Dialogue In Their Voice 

Sometimes you don’t need to go so deep into their heads, dialogue is enough. This works especially for characters who view the world in a completely different light, or are incredibly witty that the dialogue is more than enough to tell that. And this can be your eyes only, and can help to figure out some aspects which works so well for me. 

#2 Write Notes Like A Biography

Whenever I want to write a character, sometimes I do this. Sometimes the characters may only have a couple chapters, how do I show and outline their personality well enough. I write notes, like a biography except that it can be written hilariously, or in any way you want to. It can be like a journal, reflecting your character’s voice, perspective. Or it can be how you view them. It can be also about their personality. This isn’t just about listing down all facts, you can go into detail for some of them, and they can be quite fun. It all just depends on how you write them, and they can stay private and never see the light of day. 

#3 Try Writing Letters 

This is the best way for me to develop relationships, especially when I start chuckling at how it will be. These sort of things can reveal a lot of aspects of their relationships, and give it a deeper depth. And help you in characterization around certain characters, when they are around some others. 

Or perhaps whether it was strained at some point, another where one knew a lot more about. I would say that this depends a lot on how you write, how your characters are. 

This are basically all my tips to develop characters, this are really what works for me. I’m not a full planner, the way I plan is organic and free. Since I find myself finding that certain aspects of a character sheet are redundant and some are missing which I needed so desperately. Do tell if you have any other tips, or differing opinions. There are many ways to develop your characters, and this is just one of them. 

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Making Characters Realistic

Realistic characters are really difficult to create, and really difficult to handle. Even if they lack the sort of heroism that most protagonists have, but when they are done well I like them a lot more than before. 

Why? 

Because it means that they aren’t immune, they also have an awareness about them. It makes them relatable, because they do not want to lose their head. If they selflessly sacrificed themselves each time for the other, I will be more likely to end up scratching my head as to what it happening. And I would find them to be Jesus instead of real people I can love and believe in. 

So, what are my tips for making characters a little more believable. 

#1 Making Then Choose 

There is nothing more difficult than handling this, since a lot of times we would have a really good relationship with all the main characters. We find them likeable. But moral dilemmas would happen, dilemmas about what to choose and whether they should simply just accept and move on or fight it. 

It is giving them two difficult choices with endings that can turn out to be less than ideal. It can be endings that has a risk. And that is what makes them believable, when they are making a tough decision. When they know that there is no easy way out and there is no way to eat the cake and still have it. And having them to make a choice, a personal sacrifice to either this or that. 

#2 Making Them Suffer The Consequences 

Every action would have a consequence, that is something that we cannot change. And it cannot have them only have a light slap on the wrist and that’s it. 

I really like books which don’t let the characters off easy, they suffer but they survive. That is the whole point of being a main character, who wants to read about a main character who has a perfect life with almost no obstacles. No problems. 

That would be boring isn’t it? So make it hard, make them lose something precious to them. Make them suffer through the ordeal. As we said, something that does not kill us makes us stronger. 

#3 Knowing their mistakes and redeeming themselves

It is important that mistakes are fleshed out, mistakes are brought up. And redemption is earned not given. I would prefer that most characters know their actions would have an impact on the surroundings. That it won’t end in happily ever after for them. And I like happy endings which are earned rather than given. 

And that the characters need to work for their redemption, they need to do a lot just to have that. People are quick to hate and slow to forgive, and making characters take a long time to earn makes it believable and plausible. Or perhaps an apology from a character that never feels as though he has done anything wrong. 

Having them do all this makes it really believable as we all have done something wrong in our lives, we all have disappointed someone. So, isn’t it correct to have them redeem themselves and try to earn it. That makes it a lot more believable than just apologizing and it’s all forgotten. That would be impossible. 

These are all my tips when it comes to making characters more believable. If you have any more, feel free to leave them below, I really want to hear from you regarding this. 

Making A Character Three-dimensional 

This can be one of the most difficult to pull off, and even sometimes I can barely pull it off. Making three dimensional characters is a must in almost any book, if you ask me. But it is also the headache for many writers, even me to an extent. 

The first thing which I would say would help make your characters three-dimensional is giving them a flaw. Or a number of them. Some small, some big. And enough to make them believable to a reader. Having one flaw can be quite boring, but a few where they would need to rely on others is more suitable instead. And one might just lead to their downfall. 

Another is develop details, sometimes certain quirks or details help to make a character have a little more depth. Even more so when why did they eventually develop such a habit, it can be quite fun to invent the various back stories constructed in such a way to make them so. 

Their quirks and habits, must reflect their mindset. Or at least give a nudge that there is a lot more than what meets the eye, or even any disabilities they might have. Not shove it into the reader’s face or simply mention it but also show it in some ways that they are as such. 

And most importantly, is to have another side to them. Rather than the usual characters personality, show a little more to them. It can make the book a little funnier, a little darker, a little more deep. Also, it must be a smooth transition or hinted from early on that they might have such a side or personality. Only that it is hidden from them. 

Most importantly, is to always be honest with the character you have and their motivations, their goals and their morality. Show what their mind is thinking, show what kind of actions they would take. And also, let their actions and words define them, you can justify it from their point of view but they should never change or become a gentler version of what they should have been. 

It is also to portray them in their true colours if they are main characters. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even sound like themselves anymore, just hypocrites if done unintentionally can be rather off putting. 

So, do you have any other ways to make a character three-dimensional? Feel free to leave it below, it is always welcome. 

Creating Believable Characters

This applies to main characters mostly. I really hate characters which are always doing the right thing. They are simply not believable to me in the least. Whenever I read a book about such characters, most of the time I think they are stupid. 

There is always a fine line between having a moral code and forgiving and simply being a self harming idiot. And I absolutely despite villains who just change at the last moment, it never happens at all and please don’t tell me that he was possessed, it simply feels cheap. 

I really like realistic characters, and maybe it’s why I end up writing mostly anti-heroes, or even villains. Those that are realistic and sound in their decisions. Rather than being irrational and saving the world because of it. 

If a hero always manages to go through everything without ever growing at all, and not growing through any ordeal. Then, he is simply a flat character. He does not learn anything from his own adventures and simply is not a good hero. 

Or heroes whose view on the world never changes, even slightly. It doesn’t have to be as big as from good to evil. Perhaps a little more willing to sacrifice others for the greater good or just willing to accept that some are beyond saving. That’s a change. The saviour complex sometimes needs to stop really. 

And also, don’t try and link characters together by a prophecy. It’s old and it’s tried. For me, a far better and more interesting thing is to watch characters dig their own graves, and characters becoming their downfall through their own mistakes. I really like characters that are also driven whether by revenge, or any other means. They just need to have a goal, and not just a person that the reader slip into. 

They also must grow and change. Like earlier, it can be anything from personalities or moral ethnics, but I believe the goal should not change much at all. I strongly dislike characters who just change their goal unless they have achieved it or found a better goal. They should never just be solely forgetting the previous goal. Goals can make or a break a character, especially villains and protagonists. Their goal should always be opposite of each other to be interesting. 

Overall, I really think that believable characters are made of goals that may never change, constant growth at the end of the book and most importantly, having characters be driven through it rather than some prophecy. 

What do you think makes up a believable characters? Or is there anything I have left out which you think is important? Please leave it in the comments below. 

What Makes A Character Compelling?

I would say, their personality. Not just their personality but also their flaws, their weaknesses. But most importantly is that none of the characters in your world should be able to get off scot free when they have done something wrong. Or are not excluded from repercussions. 

And for me, I liked watching my characters suffer through things. Watching every bit of their lives eventually impacting them and peeling back all those layers. People are three dimensional, and everything they go through would affect them in some way or another. As a writer, it’s knowing how it would affect them and portraying it as such. Rather they would become bitter, ir at least a little kinder or taking on any traits. But they must learn something by the end of the book. 

And another is having them fail horribly only to pick themselves up. That is true strength, not badass abilities like swordsmanship, knife throwing, or some abilities which makes them only physically badass. I also like verbal ones too. 

And unlike protangists this has to apply to all characters in the story. Either minor ones, supporting characters, they all have to impact the story in some way, and likewise. 

Most importantly, it’s also being able to relate to their characters. I also enjoy books based on how relatable they are, rather than just on the interesting personality. Sometimes it can be hard to relate to some characters but their characters are interesting, but not entirely plausible based on the background. Backstory also gives depth to them, but their current personality also has to reflect what they went through, and how it impacted them. The backstory has to explain what made them as such, and not just there to induce tears. There is a relationship between these two, and sometimes the backstory simply doesn’t explain why is a character so. 

As some backstories can be abosrbed by different characters with a complete turn in their personalities. It can also explain some of their quirks, and also some of their behaviour. But both must reflect each other and give a very very plausible explanation for it. Different people deal with problems differently and their age can be an issue too. Ultimately, I read books and expect backstory which gives a character necessary depth, instead of contradicting their personality itself. 

So, what do you think on this? I really would like to hear your input based on this issue. 

On Writing Strong Female Characters 

I believe that this characters don’t need to know how to fight, neither do they need to be extremely powerful. They just need to display strength in the best way possible, when in peril, they choose to be strong rather than just whine endlessly about how life was unfair to them. 

And ‘strong’ doesn’t mean invincible either, it means that they still have flaws and are normal with their own issues. With such issues, they are more human rather than just the epitome of an empowered female. And most importantly, they have some importance to the plot. 

One thing I dislike about such strong females is the need to reject their identity, I’m fine with them able to fight. But I tend to dislike such characters unless of course, they are shown the different types of power even the softest women can wield. 

In fact, I’m fine with them really disliking dresses or skirts, but to deny that they are a woman is something that I think it is not strong at all, since they are admitting they do not want to be a woman. 

And for me one of the most important things of all has to be that they must she agency and goals. A female character who is just there is boring, dreadfully so. They must want something and think something which is ultimately what makes me like them. 

Even if their personalities tend to be very grey and even villains, ultimately I still like them based on their goals and how driven they are. Not how good they are. But how their personality is like, and how they would face all adversity. Even if they are annoying, plucky or just girly, as long as they have some sort of goal they want to fulfil and an ambition they are willing to work for is what I consider a strong female character. 

So what do you think about this? What is your thoughts about strong female characters? Leave it all below as I would like to see your opinions in this. 

Creating Characters 

To me, it’s the easiest thing to do. I love creating characters and finding out what makes them tick and what makes them live? And yet they can also be the hardest to create and breathe life into. 

To create a character isn’t to have them focus onto one trait and emphasis on it, but rather a myriad of traits together and have them work, which is what I believe happens more often. And I love to create new and original characters, protangonist who doesn’t always have the same starting point as an orphan or anything. 

For me, backstory shouldn’t be overly tragic, it can be brutal to show how it changed them, but don’t overdo things. Also, for me it also can be in the small things. Whether they were not as successful or anything. I dislike having characters that are either too perfect, or are good in nothing. Or too much in another. To have a great character is also about balance. 

Don’t only have one flaw, then it would become boring as that it their only flaw. Have them have other more minor flaws, which can make them more human-like. And never make them infallible, maybe in the areas they are really good in which I would agree, but in others if they are tempted enough they would succumb. 

For me, I tend to never think of my main character as a hero, but someone with about as much flaws as strengths. And that’s why I break plenty of rules when making my own characters, as it’s what makes them interesting and compelling that attract readers. I have books I hated solely for the characters, they were flat uninteresting and utterly boring. 

And never use a template or a guide to make them, I listen to such characters and figure out what makes them tick. I used to think of them like that, there are rules that I have to follow which only guided me up until a certain point when I started writing darker works, I was left on my own to figure out what was it that I wanted to write and how to make them interesting.   

And that’s when reading also comes in handy, as you will have been exposed to countless protagonists and how they work as characters. And also what to avoid, as you have truly experienced them and knowing what to avoid and how to avoid. In fact, I have one favourite character which was inspiration for many and taught me that not all needed to be actions gals or guys, they can be physically weak or far from strong. But rather their mind and their personalities was something that I needed to develop and well too. 

For me, the rule of thumb for creating characters is not to go overboard but rather a balance between them and have them come together. And never crank up a trait to eleven for a specific character. What about you? What do you think should be used to create characters?