May 07, 2013

More On Character Development

Aspiring writers always want to know how to create characters. Really, you can’t know enough about character development. I have already posted three blogs on the subject:

Bring Characters To Life

Characters Make A Book
Protagonist Vs. Antagonist

Ever wonder where a character comes from?

Sometimes you do create a character from head-to-toe and other times a character suddenly pops into your head already created. Is there a mad scientist in your head making characters out of spare thoughts? Not likely.

But where do they come from?

Well, they are already in your head, waiting for the right time for you to tell their story or for the right story idea to be a part of. When that time comes, they leap forward but they don’t say, “Choose me!” Instead, they announce, “Here I am!” And you pretty much have no other choice but to use them.

On some occasions you may create a character totally from scratch and then the unthinkable happens, as you are writing, that character changes without you even realizing it. When this happens, don’t try to control them. That character is trying to tell you that they have more potential than you realize.

I have a character whom I thought I knew. I made her up, but then she decided she wanted to be different. I continued to write about her, unaware of what was happening until much later. I was surprised when I found out that her personality went from being inspired by a side of my best friend to also being inspired by a part of my own personality.

Another character in my series originally took after my best friend’s sassy and outspoken side, but this character is such a free spirit that she made herself into her own woman. Now I have no idea whom she takes after, and that’s what I love about her! She also started out as a minor character, but then in the second book she pushed her way forward, demanding more attention and I gave her all the attention she wanted. Now in the fourth book she is one of the main characters, and I don’t dare try to stop her!

The fact is, characters change as you write, and that’s exactly what is supposed to happen. 
“And if minor characters show an inclination to become major characters as they’re apt to do, you at least give them a shot at it, because in the world of fiction it may take many pages before you find out who the major characters really are...” -Frederick Buechrer

Characters also inspire plot. Whenever you get an idea for a story, there is always a character there because they are the story. You may not know everything about them yet, but that’s when you have to ask, “Who is this person?” Then when you are writing, they may change the course of the story. After all, the story is as much theirs as it is yours.

If a character seems to be doing something different than what you originally planned, do not restrain them! Let them stray away from what you thought would happen, to what they are saying should happen. It will probably turn out better!

The protagonist in my series definitely has a mind of her own and has occasionally stepped from the path I have paved. I have added in things that she was telling me she needed to do before this could happen. So I let her have her way, which turns out to be my way in the end. 

Your characters are THE thing in your writing. They are slightly more important than the plot. Without characters, you won’t have a story. And if you don’t have good characters, not even an excellent plot can revive your story.

Now sit down, grad a pen and paper, and get to know your characters. In return, they will get to know you.


  1. They are just about more important than the plot. I tend to remember characters more than I do the plot of books I read. That puts on the pressure, you know? I'm glad to meet you, and I look forward to your posts! :D

  2. Indeed, it does put on the pressure, but creating characters is soo much fun that I don't often even notice the pressure. I'm glad to you meet you too! :)

  3. This is so true, Chrys. And that is one of the most FANTASTIC abilities which we, as authors, have when it comes to character development. We are creatively inclined to try and build someone from scratch or simply reflect off of the qualities and traits which the people surrounding us have. I absolutely love thinking about my protagonists and antagonists and even more so, bumping into random people on the street, knowing that they could become part of my story. Great post!