Digging Deeper: Better Character Development


Fiction writers should never fall short of great ideas for books and stories. Real life offers plenty of inspiration that way. However, to make the story more substantive sometimes we have to dig a little deeper into our characters and the lives we are documenting in fiction.

How can we make our stories richer? By making your characters richer. Here are some tips:

  • Re-think the profession, career or job you’ve assigned to your character. Once you decide on what it is they will do, then find someone with a similar job in the community and shadow them or query them about the joys and pains of what they do. Here is a great post about re-thinking clichéd jobs: Is Your Character’s Career a Cliché?
  • Create a character chart that lists everything about them as your imagination allows. Sit down and answer a few questions about them that could make writing the story more interesting. Here is an example of a character chart you can use: Character Chart for Fiction Writers.
  • Give them interesting names and research the meaning of those names. Use a site like BabyNames.com for finding popular, ethnic and other types of names for your characters. Consider using non-traditional names such as Honoria for a villainous woman.
  • Observe strangers and the way they carry themselves publicly. Some man’s walk could be intriguing enough to assign to a male character or a store clerk’s lisp could be perfect for a character who talks a lot.
  •  Create secret Pinterest boards for your characters and give them a life. Choose clothing, housing, books, music, and other visual prompts to assist you in fleshing them out in writing.

Remember readers are drawn to characters, really good characters who have dimension and facets to their personas. Work a little harder to make yours the stars of your story.

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