Developing characters is an important thing to do before you start writing so that your characters feel real and fleshed out. Sometimes characters come to you fully formed but other times you have no more than a vague feeling. Here is a list of things that are good to consider when developing your characters, and although you might not use all of them the better you know the character the better you can write them.
How your characters looks and why they choose to look that way is a very important part of a character’s identity. For one it allows you to see how they express themselves, and secondly it allows you to see how society would react to them – a thing that would impact their choices and experiences. Someone who fits the cultural stereotypes of your society is far more likely to be seen as desirable and would be more readily trusted than someone who doesn’t. Someone who wears very formal clothes is going to be seen very differently than someone who wears swimmers all the time. Someone who chooses to stand out from society is going to be very different to someone who stands out no matter how much they try to fit in. This is also a good way to explore your world, but there will be more on that next post.
Star Sign or MBTI or Hogwarts Houses
Character archetypes such as the astrological signs, mbti types (link to further info here) or hogwarts houses can be a good way to figure out the broader strokes of your character’s personality. Obviously they don’t have to fit the type completely but it can help you get a general idea of what they value and what they want in life. This can also be a good way of distinguishing between characters, for example if you have two characters who are both very friendly and like to help others you could apply the Hogwarts house s and have one who is more selfless and is happy to follow others (Hufflepuff) as well as one who likes to take charge and is more bold (Gryffindor). This can help your readers (along with you) to tell the difference between your characters. If you’d be interested in a post further explaining these typing systems let me know.
Sexuality and Romantic Experience
Especially if you are writing YA it is important to know if/how your character has explored their romantic/sexual feelings. This can impact characters differently but almost always has an impact whether it be insecurity, overconfidence or a defensive attitude. This is especially relevant in YA because most of the characters end up in a relationship with another character and these relationships can easily be unrealistic. Knowing this side of your characters will help you to make their relationships more realistic along with providing insight into their actions and thought processes.
Childhood and Family
YA books tend to have a syndome where parental figures are missing so the child can figure things out for themselves, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the character didn’t have happy moments in their childhood. Childhood and family can have a massive impact on someone when they are older. A bad childhood or abuse family can lead someone to be insecure or defensive, a sheltered childhood could lead someone to be overly trusting, a family they didn’t get on with could have led them to become more independent or more closed off. It all depends on the character, however childhood issues can lead to some compelling problems for your character. Skills learnt in childhood can also be helpful to your character getting out of sticky situations. Maybe your character was a gymnast, or spent all their time skate boarding. You’ll never know if you don’t take the time to figure it out.
The Writing Process Series
What other things do you think are important to consider when developing a character?