How to Develop Your Characters

Filed in Ask the Editor, Writing Tips by on October 29, 2020 0 Comments

A character needs negative traits to stand out from others and traits that make them feel human. Here are 5 things you should know about your characters...

When it comes to developing characters, first-time writers often fall into two camps. The first camp doesn’t focus on creating character profile sheets and instead just wings it during their writing. The second camp thinks that a character should be as close to perfect humans as the writer can get them. Both of these can lead to very flat—somewhat boring—characters because they lack depth.

The secret to developing a character that is strong, well-rounded, interesting is grittiness. Every single character needs some negative traits, some traits that make them stand out from others, and traits that make them feel human.

Don’t shy away from the negative elements of your characters. None of us are perfect and the characters in books shouldn’t be either.

5 Things to Know About Your Characters

  1. What is this character’s speaking style? Do they speak fast or slow? Are they monotone or enthusiastic when speaking? Do they have an accent or speak in a specific dialect?
  2. Determine some defining gestures or movements for this character.
  3. What are some unique physical attributes you should note about this character?
  4. What is this character’s temperament? Are they easy-going or rigid?
  5. What are the negative traits of this character?

It’s important to know basic information about each of your characters, like name, age, height, physical appearance, and where they live. But it’s the good and bad personality traits that really help bring your characters to life.


Want more writing tips? Visit our full list of writing tips for help at any stage of the writing process.

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About the Author ()

Erika Bennett has been a freelance editor for nearly half a decade. Before joining the Xulon team in 2010, she worked with several first time authors who wanted to test the waters of self-publishing. Her aim is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands.

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