Writing Tips—How to Develop Characters (Tips from the Crew Part Two)

In the first part of this series, we presented five tips to help you develop characters. The following are the remaining five general tips from the crew.

6) Trust Your Instincts

Your character should be your best friend, someone who you know more about than anyone else and love them no matter what flaws they have. So if you are getting annoyed with your character the chances are your reader is too. It's never too late to save a boring character, it might not always be as bad as you think.

7) Stay Away From Stereotypes

Even though it might seem like the easy option to use a stereotype for your character but it won't make them stand out and become appealing to your reader. Using a stereotype as a basis for your character can work but it is also a little risky as you can find that it is hard to make your character into an individual with their own traits and personality.

8) First Person Narrative

Even if you don't plan on using first person narrative in your story, it helps in getting to know your character if you write something - long or short or whatever - from the direct viewpoint of the character. I always let the character speak to me through this; he/she will tell me if something is bothering them, how he/she reacts in certain situations, etc. I'm often pleasantly surprised in what I learn through this.

9) Interview Your Character

Starting with a list of standard questions, interview your character. Many of these details may never see the light of day in the actual story, but the information will be there when you need it. Early on you can decide about eye color, likes and dislikes, their background and so much more.

As your story develops, you could interview your character again to expand your understanding of how your character would likely react in certain situations. Think of this second interview as between you and the character in relation to the story itself. Ask him/her about events in the story. Get in their head, in other words.

10) Inspiration From Different Objects

This can be the cure for writers block as well as the perfect kind of muse to create your character. Say if you were to have an object that you see everyday, has a great variety of colour or maybe depth to it; it helps if you personify the object. A marble has a great amount of 'depth' to it. The colours change in the right light, the texture is smooth, and it's small yet gracefull.

Or maybe you can go for a walk and study the scenery. Trees, plants and flowers are an awesome muse because they're already full with life, so there's not much left to add from it.