How to Develop an Interesting Character for Your Book

Updated on December 16, 2017
poppyr profile image

Poppy is a proofreader and Dragon Age fan. She lives in Tokyo and has two hamsters named Zelda and Hemingway.

I was seventeen when I first started writing my first "real" book. Since I was typing the first few chapters as a teenager, I have learned a lot about writing and picked up many skills that, once you know them, seem obvious.

A lot of potentially good stories are spoiled by the lack of a character's development. Having a believable, three-dimensional character is arguably one of the most important aspects of storytelling. Whether you're working on flash fiction or a novel, there is always at least one character involved. He or she is the heart and soul of your story. With someone interesting to share the adventure with, readers are far more likely to turn the page.

Here are the essential steps you need to make to create a likeable, believable and memorable character.

Source

Decide on Basic Details

The first thing you have to do when creating a new character is basic information about them. Create a new file or start a new page in your notebook, decide on some details and, once you have begun your story, stick to these details.

Here are some things for you to think about:

  • When and where was your character born? In the dead of night in winter? In an old shack, the back of a car or a hospital? Were there a lot of people there at the time, or did the character's mother give birth alone?
  • What is their sexual orientation?
  • What do they look like? Are they tall, short or average? What's their body build? Hair and eye colour? Are they physically attractive? How old are they at the beginning of your tale?
  • What kind of personality do they have? Are they kind or selfish? Grumpy? Quiet? Bossy? Funny? Open-minded? It's important to make your character likeable, but they can't be without flaws. Decide on several basic personality traits for your character, some positive and one or two negative. Make sure they are compatible, though.
  • What kind of voice do they have? High-pitched? Rumbling? Scratchy?
  • Is there anything about your character that people immediately notice? A great smile? Towering height and broad shoulders? A beautiful wave of long, shimmering hair? A missing limb? Dimples?

Source

Expanding their World

After you've decided on some basics, it is important to shape the world around them that has made them into who they are. Think about:

  • Their family. Is it large or small? Do they live nearby? Is your character close to her parents? Is she an orphan? Does she have brothers and sisters or is she an only child?
  • Where they grew up. Did they always live in a specific place, and if so, how did it affect their beliefs and values? Or did they travel around a lot and never settle in a specific place?
  • Childhood memories and experiences. What has happened in their life to shape who they are in your book? Were they bullied? Top of the class? Childhood trauma?
  • Friends and acquaintainces. At this point, you don't have to go into a lot of detail about the people around your character, but give a clear indication of their immediate influences for your reference later. Who's their best friend? Are they close to their family? Do they have any pets?
  • Their job, if applicable. Do they enjoy it? How long have they done it? What's their relationship with their boss?

What's the most enjoyable thing about writing for you?

See results

More Complex Traits

As you're throwing around ideas about the above, you'll start to know your character more deeply. Depending on what you've decided for what we just discussed, you may be able to think (or perhaps, you already know) the following:

  • Your character's hopes and desires. Your character must have a goal in each part of your book; that is what keeps the story flowing. But what are her more private dreams and hopes? Does she hope to become rich? Become a strong warrior? A pilot? A parent with twenty children?
  • Your character's fears. We all have fears, rational and irrational. Does your character hate insects? Snakes? The dark? Fire? If so, why? Does their childhood trauma, if there is any, affect this?
  • Their hobbies. What do they do in their spare time? Do they like to sew? Paint? Sing?

As you make notes, discard ideas and brainstorm, your character will slowly start to come to life. Once you understand them, you'll know exactly how they will react in the situation you put them in.

  • What are their likes and dislikes? Do they love animals? Prefer the city or the countryside? Savoury or sweet? Horror or comedy?
  • Are they an introvert or an extrovert? Optimist or pessimist? What kind of sense of humour do they have?

Try taking a personality test AS your character, and see what kind of person they turn out to be. Did you completely make them up, or are they based on someone you know?

Source

Putting them into the Story

I'll assume that you will start with the development of your main character. After you have a plan of your character's traits, and perhaps drawn a picture of them, you'll have a much clearer idea of how they react when you put them into a situation in your story.

Keep in mind that not everything you decide on will necessarily make it into the story itself. If your character is allergic to peanuts, but never comes close to eating any, it doesn't mean you've wasted your time decided on this trait. You need to know your character like you know a sibling or a friend.

Source

Your character is in your story. What's happening to them? How do they treat the people around them, and how are they treated back? Do they take the path of justice or an easier, darker path? What is their reasoning behind their actions?

All of these questions are much easier to answer when you have developed your character properly. When writing a new story, sometimes it is better to begin with the character, and let their life play out naturally based on their actions.

Traits might end up making exciting plot twists. Does your character accidentally eat something they're allergic to? Get stuck in a situation where they must overcome their biggest fear? Make sure your readers know your character as well as you do so that when the time comes for them to overcome an obstacle, your readers will share her excitement.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Poppy

    Comments

    Submit a Comment

    • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR

      Poppy 

      21 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Keep trying! There is always the route of self-publishing (though make sure you prepare properly first.) I wrote an article about steps to take before self-publishing which might help you, https://toughnickel.com/self-employment/Things-You...

      Have you written any books so far that you're hoping to publish?

    • louise-barraco profile image

      Louise Barraco 

      21 months ago from Ontario

      This is great so helpful for all writers me included I have been writing since a very young age but haven't gotten anything published

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hobbylark.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hobbylark.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)