You’ve got a great idea for a novel or screenplay. You’ve got an outline, and you know exactly where your story is going. But what about the characters?
You’re probably already familiar with the idea of character development techniques. You know that a character’s personality is established in the first few pages of a story, and you know what makes them tick. But do you know how to take it to the next level?
Character development is an essential part of the writing process, but it can be tricky. There are so many different techniques and methods that it’s hard to know where to start. Premium book writing services make this guide to help writers like you get started with character development. In this guide, they’ll explain nine different techniques to make your characters come alive on the page and in your reader’s mind!
9 Techniques To Develop A Character For Your Story
Here are nine character development techniques you can use when developing your characters for any genre and writing style.
1. Character Backstory
A character backstory is the history of your character. It’s what makes them who they are. And it defines their actions, emotions, goals, and relationships throughout the story.
It’s important to know where you want your characters’ stories to go before you begin writing them. Especially if you’re going for a specific genre or topic (like action), without an established foundation on which to build your story from scratch, it’ll be difficult for readers to follow along with what’s happening because there won’t be anything familiar about it yet!
Archetypes are characters that are so common they seem like they have always been there. They’re the same in every story, movie, and book you’ve ever read. You know them as well as you know your own family members. You can recognize them by their names and roles within the story.
Archetypes help us to understand our world better by giving us context for what we see on screen or hear from our favorite authors. In this way, archetypes can serve as a helpful guide for developing characters with whom readers may not be familiar yet still find themselves able to connect with (or at least identify).
It’s important to note: There are no archetypes that are inherently bad or good. The key is how you use them. When done well, an archetype can help your readers understand a character and relate to his/her struggles more quickly than otherwise possible. But when done poorly, archetypes can come off as cliche and boring.
3. Casting a Character
Casting a character is one of the most common ways to create a great character. If you want to create a believable main character, cast your actor properly. A good actor will help make your story come alive onscreen and draw in the audience with their performance.
It’s also important that you cast your actors correctly because they’ll play off each other well. This means that it’ll be easier for directors/producers (or anyone else) who work on sets with them later when filming begins.
4. Creating a Character From Scratch
Creating a character from scratch is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of writing fiction. It requires the writer to think about their story in a new way, taking into account what makes it unique, how it will develop over time, and where it can go next.
Before starting on this journey, we recommend that you spend some time creating a character profile for your protagonist. An overview of who they are as people and how they interact with other characters in the plot. This will help you understand them better as well as give you an idea of where their story should go next.
In addition—and perhaps most importantly—you should create outlines for each major plotline thread running through your book. The two things you need to figure out are:
- Character Profile: A detailed description of your character’s personality and habits that will help you develop their motivations and desires (and keep them from being too predictable).
- Character Outline: A rough outline of what happens in each scene/chapter/issue. Make sure not to forget anything important about their life or background story. This can also include notes on how you want to describe them physically (e.g., “tall” instead of just “tall”).
5. Internal Motivation
Internal motivation is a character’s internal drive to achieve goals and achieve them in the most effective way possible. If you’re writing a story, this often means thinking about how your character will be motivated by external factors (like an outside force or event) but also how they’ll react internally.
One way you can tell if a character is internally motivated is to ask yourself: Does he/she have an innate desire to achieve something? This could be either out of self-interest or because someone else wants them to do so. For example: Let’s say you’ve got two characters who both want something from each other. But one has an advantage over the other in terms of resources or power. This could lead to conflict between them over who gets what first. And therefore which one receives more attention from the other if there’s no winner here?
If we take our previous example and swap out “power” for “money”, we’d have an interesting dynamic: Who gets rich first? Which person ends up with everything they wanted?
6. Dialogue Cards
Dialogue cards are a fun way to develop characters and improve storytelling. You can use them in many ways, including:
- Help make sure that your character’s dialogue is consistent (so it doesn’t sound like they’re contradicting themselves) or that they’re not talking too much or too little.
- To provide additional information about your character’s feelings and motivations when he or she talks about things other than what is happening at the moment.
- This can help readers become more emotionally invested in your story giving them a better understanding of why this character acts the way he does in certain scenes.
Dialogue cards can also help improve your writing by giving you an idea of how to structure your scene. They also help to make sure that nothing important gets left out. They’re also useful for coming up with ideas about where else you could insert dialogue into a set.
7. Location is an Effective Characterization Device
Location can be used as a character device to reveal a lot about your story’s protagonist. You can use location to reveal a character’s motivation through the way they interact with their environment.
For example, if you’re writing about an insecure teenage girl who moves across the country and finds herself in a new town with no friends. She might be motivated by her desire for acceptance and belonging, so she tries hard to fit in with others at school. Her location has changed but that doesn’t change who she is or why she wants what’s best for herself.
Another example is that you’re writing about a young boy who finds himself on an adventure in the middle of nowhere. You can use his environment to describe what motivates him to choose this place. And why does he wants to explore this place or live the rest of his life in this particular place?
8. Free Writing Techniques for Developing Characters
Free writing is a technique that you can use to get ideas out of your head and onto paper. It’s also an effective way to get to know your characters better. Because with free writing you’ll be able to see how they interact with each other and the world around them.
Free writing can take many forms. You might write about what happens when the character wakes up in the morning. Or maybe something more eventful like an argument between friends at school or a date gone awry. Whatever it is that sparks your mind into action, free writing will help you discover new angles on existing scenes or develop new ones entirely!
9. What Does This Character Value?
Character development is an essential part of the writing process. It can be tricky, though, because you don’t want to develop your characters in a way that makes them seem flat or boring. The most important thing you need to know about your character is what they value. Your protagonist’s values are the things that make him or her a good person and make it difficult for them to do bad things.
If you’re writing a story about an anti-hero, then you might want to portray their moral compass completely skewed. Their sense of right and wrong won’t be as clear-cut as those around them. This can include anything from violence against others (such as killing someone), stealing money or property, lying or cheating on someone important in their life (like cheating on a spouse), etc.
We’ve all been stuck on a character development technique and have no idea where to begin. Character development, like any other aspect of writing, is a process rather than an end result. Even if your characters are already written and ready to go, you will always be working on them. The best examples of this are the ones that stay with you long after you’ve finished your book and begin to influence how you view people in real life. Character development isn’t just about making sure each character has a distinct voice. It’s also about understanding their motivations so they feel like real people instead of cardboard cutouts or stereotypes.