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Writing Tips: Character Development

My tips on how to make the most of your characters and how to make them come alive.


What motivates your character? Love? Justice? Power? Wealth? Why do they do the things they do? This is an important thing to tackle when your creating a character, it helps you and the reader understand why the character is in the story in the first place.

They just don’t appear out of nowhere

You have to remember that your characters had lives before the events of your story. They had parents, they grew up and they could have had other possible adventures before the one that your writing about. Think about your characters background. Did they have a happy childhood? Did they have both parents? Where did they grow up? What events took place to make them who they are today? You don’t have to put all of this in your story but it still helps you understand the point of view of a character.

They are people

When you create a character you are basically creating a person. Like people they have loves, tastes and dislikes. What kind of music would they be into? Do they like to read/draw/play sports? Do they have any hidden talent? What is their favourite food? Do they have any phobias? Again not all of this information needs to go into your story but they are good things to keep in mind to make them more realistic to you.


Every character needs relationships, whether they be good or bad. They may have friends, lovers, enemies and all of these help develop them as a person. Even characters who prefer to work alone still need some form of human contact, some one to talk too or hate. Again, like everything else in character development you have to ask why. Why does your character choose to be friends with their companions? Is there anything that irritates them about their friends? Also, why do they hate their enemies? What did they do to them to cause so much pain to them?


How a character looks can reflect a lot about them. Battle scars and tattoos can give a character history. The colours that a character wears can reflect a lot about their personality, in many stories, movies and cartoons the villainwears black to make them appear darker and more frightening, but this doesn’t always have to be the case, a hero that wears black would appear mysterious or sensual, depending on what they are wearing. When choosing a colour for your character think of what that colour symbolises to you, and whether or not it suits the character wearing it. Body type is also important. Is your character thin/fat/ muscular/ average build? Every detail you think of makes them that bit more realistic.

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One Response to “Writing Tips: Character Development”
  • BruceW
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Yes, you should know your characters inside out, their histories, major life events and motivations (not the naff stuff like favourite colour that some character checklists include!). You should know more about them than you ever reveal to the reader.

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