How to write your novel: Character development
Do you daydream constantly? Do you have a stash of journals? Are you always brainstorming? Well, if you answered yes to any or all of these questions, character development should be a breeze.
When I’m planning a novel, I think about my protagonists and what their key characteristics are. I ask myself questions about what they look like, what their dreams/goals are and whether they have any hobbies. I also ask myself about their personality, whether they have any pets and where they live.
In the novel I’ve recently completed, there are three main characters (it’s multiple point-of-view) and I’ve brainstormed about each of them. In some cases, the character reveals themselves to me as I write dialogue, thoughts, feelings and reactions to other characters. However, it’s important to have some idea about what your characters are like before you start.
Here is a list of characteristics you should think about when creating characters:
- Dreams/goals and anything that might get in the way of these
- Character flaws (We all have them and so must they)
- Health/illnesses (including mental health)
- Dietary issues
- Siblings (how many, how old they are, what their names are)
- Parents (occupation, personalities, any particular issues they may have with one or both of them)
- Socioeconomic status
There are many more categories you could add to this list, but these are a good start. On a practical level, I put my character’s name in the middle of the page and draw a spider diagram, where I list all the elements about the person I can think of.
You might be a pantser (make the story up as you go) rather than a plotter (plan the story before you begin) or a combination of both, but it pays dividends to get to know your characters before you begin a massive project like a novel. Their quirks and flaws will help drive the plot and if your characters are relatable and realistic, people will want to keep reading!