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How to Develop Characters in a Novel

The development of characters is undoubtedly the most challenging task when you’re new to writing. To enrich a plot and add fuel to the story, you need to ace the characterization of every individual character. It’s quite a lengthy process, but once you become aware of every single element of your characters, it becomes easier to crunch the numbers and create impact.

Many writers believe that the main plot of the story is less significant because if the characters are rich and colorful; the story develops on its own. Thus, to build a strong character, you need to be well versed with every thought and every emotion that it feels. It should be a reflex rather than an afterthought.

For example, if your character’s best friend is unable to attend their birthday, how would they feel? This question may not even be part of the main storyline, but it will give you a back story to rely on when the characterization hinders.

Hence, to flesh out a beautiful and refined character, you need to be able to answer a few questions. As a writer, your job is to breathe life into the character and make them believable. You can’t seek essay help online and demand answers from someone else – it’s your imagination, whatever that is.

By the time you produce the first draft of the novel, the base of every character should be concrete. You may add on individual traits and features later on, but the core should be ready. To create characters who have a life of their own, you need to go through a process called Character Interview.

  • What Is A Character Interview?

A character interview is composed of a series of questionnaires that help build the character. You get to understand the character from every aspect – you understand their worldview and self-image. Therefore, try asking yourself the following questions: What are the core needs of the characters? What is the character’s deepest desire? How does the character think and feel?  What major events reflect the characters true personality? What is their history? What is their sexual orientation? What do they find fascinating?

The interview is conducted ordinarily; you simply write down the answers in a separate sheet. There are mainly four reasons why you need to conduct a character’s interview. First and foremost, you get to learn about a wide range of details about them; from their eye color to their insecurities and aspirations.

Secondly, this step is done before the process of writing, so you deep dive into the character and form an arc. And thirdly, it’s an easy trick to get over the writer’s block. When you begin thinking about the characters, you start – and that’s a win! J. K. Rowling never had a story in her mind; she started with the ending in her mind about a boy who beats evil.

Thus, instead of feeling uninspired and stagnated, allow the creative juices to flow and put something on the paper to build on. And finally, the traits and features you write down can later be used for just about any character – from the supporting characters to the main protagonist.

Below a series of questions are mentioned; hopefully, they’ll help you begin your writing process too!

  • Character’s Physical Appearance

You may begin the interview by asking the most obvious questions. Ask them about the kinds of clothes they wear? What is their style? Are they preppy or they prefer gothic clothing, etc.? Do they like to wear makeup? If so, then what kind of makeup do they like? Are they skinny, athletic, or overweight? What is their nationality? Ask questions about their features and skin color. Do they have distinctive marks of skin condition or tattoos? These questions will help us imagine and picture their physical appearance.

  • Character’s Background and Lifestyle

To get to know their history, you have to go back in time and ask them about their experiences. Where were they born and raised? Which school did they go to? Have they gone to university?  Where do they live now? What’s their best life moment? What do they think is their greatest achievement? If yes, then what’s the worst thing that ever happened to them? These are fundamental questions that are life-changing and leave a mark on your life. Hence, they would enable us to understand the character further.

  • Character’s Interests and Dislikes

To find out their interests and preferences, you have to ask them questions about their hobbies and pet peeves. Ask them about their most favorite possession. Do they enjoy music? What is their favorite movie? Which band is their most favorite? Do they have a favorite color? Is there something in particular that they’re not fond of? Who is their best friend? What kind of TV series do they enjoy watching? These questions will build a solid ground on which the character can walk on.

  • Character’s Relationships

Relationships are where things get messy. Hence, to make the character a bit complex, you need to evaluate their relationships with others. Do they have a biological family? Do they like them? Are they in a relationship? Do they have a crush on anyone? Do they feel close to anyone? Do they have any pets? Has anybody close to them died? Who is that one person they trust their life with? Who do they turn to for help? Do they work? If yes, then which colleagues do they absolutely despise? What is their equation with friends?

  • Character’s Thoughts and Emotions

Finally, the last series of questions are more personal and give you a glimpse into their thoughts and feelings. You begin by asking them about their insecurities and regrets. Ask the character their version of happiness and sadness? Do they experience racing thoughts? Are they constantly looking for appreciation and validation? Are they pessimist or glass half full type of person?

  • Conclusion

Thus, it can be established that the production of a well-written novel requires a firm base of characters. Every character is different from another, and it’s their little quirks and habits that give them that edge.

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