Character Development in Fiction Profile your Characters; Let them Drive the Story

Posted: August 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Apr 15, 2007 Karen Lotter
Short story or novel, if you don’t know and truly understand your own characters you are facing an uphill struggle all the way. Work hard on real character development.

Character Development in Fiction- Know their Likes and Dislikes

Much has been written about character, but somehow only a few really good fiction writers manage to create those “perfect” characters that live and breathe on the pages.

The only way truly to get to grips with your characters is to profile them. To do so, the fiction writer will need to resort to unusual tactics – take your characters to tea and interview them and really get under their skin.
To Write A Character Profile the Writer Must Know What Drives Them

In order for your characters to drive your story, you must know them intimately – their likes/dislikes; physical description, past, present, dreams of the future, what motivates them etc. Although they are fictional, your characters must be human for you – they must be believable (even if they are aliens or insects or superheros). And remember nobody is ever totally good or totally bad!
Ads by Google
Short Story Writing Class Learn From The Comfort Of Your Home Take A Quality Online Course Today!
Free Story of the Week Read a classic short story each Monday from The Library of America.
Minor Characters Can Get Away with Being Stereotypes

Your minor characters can get away with being stereotypes – at a push – total baddies or goodie-goodies, but your main characters must be deeply believable – your reader must be able to identify with them, with all their strengths and weaknesses.

So, create your hero (protagonist) and villain (antagonist) in great detail and write shorter summaries/profiles for the minor characters. This way you will create better fiction.
Creating Character Profiles for Fiction

* Name Your Characters In the Context of Your Story

Explore the names you’ve given your characters in the context of your story. Locate the story in time and make an effort to see to it that the names are suitable based on time period, ethnicity, physical description, location etc.

* What Do You Know About Your Characters?

So, what do we what to know about the characters? Start with the major characters, one by one. Put each character on a new page/file as you create the character profiles. Here are a few questions to ask, think up more yourself.
Read on

* Writing Fiction: Short Story Writing
* YWriter Free Novel Software Review
* Writing Character Profiles for a Children’s Book

* name age, height, weight/build, birthplace, color hair/eyes,
* physical peculiarities, educational background, best friend,
* enemies, family, what is the core need of this character,
* what drives him/her? Ambition in life, gestures when talking,
* what makes him/her laugh?
* what does he/she do when he/she is alone?
* Will the reader like/ dislike the character?
* does he/she change in the story?

During this character profiling exercise you need to switch your left brain off, engage your right brain (creative side) and begin to create a character.
Spend Time on the Character Profiling

Yes, you are writing fiction and you want to get on with the actual writing part of it, but you can’t just invent a name and a few characteristics and cobble them together and expect a reader to be satisfied with such a shallow character.

Start working on this worksheet and if you feel like adding more info about your character like who his/her parents are, where he/she went/goes to school; favorite color; music etc that is great – writing is not a rush for the finish line. Some people draw diagrames and charts to help them.

If you are able to profile your characters well and you truly know them, then you can tell their stories(you will find that they will tell their stories) .
Exercise to Help Create Character Profiles

In the fictional story you are writing, do you have a relationship with your characters, both the heroes and the villains? This is an exercise to help create the character profiles.

Imagine sitting in a nice restaurant, a cafe, or a peaceful garden. Take your main characters one by one and start up a first person conversation with them. Almost like an informal interview. Allow the character to ramble — on paper, of course — about what is most important to her or him. (Don’t be surprised if there isn’t a little gossip about other characters along the way). If you start with the main character, she/he will tell you who is important to him/her in the story. This way you can fill in the missing gaps when you profile your characters.
Always Keep Your Notes

So, what are you going to do with all this extra information that you don’t need? Hey, you’re a fiction writer, you’ll always need information, so keep all your notes – they’ll come in handy sometime.

It is very hard work being a good writer and anyway, once you’ve got all this done you will probably find that your right brain has lead you all over the place and new story lines and ideas have popped up – some for the story you are writing and others for new stories. That’s what happens when you get out of your own way.

Armed with your detailed profiles and with vibrant, multi-faceted characters, your stories will come to life.

Read more at Suite101: Character Development in Fiction: Profile your Characters; Let them Drive the Story


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s