Why is it important to know how to enhance character development in your novel? Your characters are the most important aspect of your novel. They are the essential parts that allow your readers to relate to your story. Your goal should be to avoid boring, predictable or generic characters. They need to be complicated simply because people are complicated. If a character is not complicated then your readers will not be able to relate to your story. It is crucial to know how to take a character from dull to complex.
You should treat your character as if they are a real person. No, that does not mean to start talking to the air, but start figuring out their personality. You should be able to answer any question about your character, even something simple like, coffee or tea, ketchup or mustard? Seemingly simple questions such as these are what help to define your characters personality, which is the first step to creating complex characters.
Figure out everything about your characters personality. You will want to map out their personality traits such as quirks and pet peeves, preferences and beliefs. You also want to know their basic info like their family history, birthplace, and birthday. All of these things can have an impact on who we are as people, even if your character is one who may have tried to hide something like this.
Be sure your character has goals. They will need a goal that can be reached by the end of your story and another lingering goal or dream to allow your character to live on, past the end of your story, in the minds of your readers. Be able to answer the questions: What does your character want by the end of the story and what does your character need to get out of life? Both of these answers will help you not only to create a complicated character, but also to craft your story.
Different from a goal or a dream, your character needs motivation. What or who keeps your character going? What is pushing them towards their goal or their dream? It could be a person, a material thing or an emotion such as greed or guilt. Whether this motivation comes from an external or an internal source, it is important to have a clearly defined motivator.
It would be helpful to create a past for your character, even if it never comes up in your novel. Humans are a product of our pasts, whether we changed ourselves because of it or we let it change us, it is still a great influence. Every event and major moment in our lives shapes the person we become. Knowing your character’s past will lead you to create a more intricate character. Keep a timeline of the history of your character to keep track of their major life events, both good and bad.
Figure out the characters place in the story. Be able to explain why it is absolutely necessary for them to be there. How do they fit in with the plot and all of the other characters? How do they fit into the world you have created? This may help you to weed out the unnecessary characters and give the vital ones an opportunity to connect with your readers on a deeper level. If you are unable to find a good enough reason to have a certain character in your story, then your readers will be wondering why they are there as well.
Some additional helpful concepts and questions to explore include:
What does your character value?
How does your character approach situations? Are they often defensive or aggressive? Why?
What traits, characteristics or behaviors does your character choose to show, what do they choose to hide, and what do they have hidden on the subconscious level? (Freud’s Iceberg Personality model)
What is their view on some controversial issues?
Try not to rush the character creation process. Allow your characters to develop so you can be sure you are putting a complete and complex character into your novel. Know your character as well or even better than you know yourself. Remember that your readers need to imagine this character as a real person and the easier you make that for them, the more they will be able to connect and relate.
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