Write 2 Be Magazine

For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box

5 Tips for Character Development in Fiction by Jonathan C Howard

Whether you’re creating fiction or reading it, character development in fiction is what turns the cogs and makes interest happen. In order for fiction to capture the minds of those who read it, an author has to devote a serious amount of time to the construction, and continual change of a character, or set of characters. As a high school English teacher, I know first hand that many young writers struggle with the development of character. It’s for that reason that I’ve put together the following list of things to consider when developing new characters.

Every Action has a Reaction

In order to truly be able to implement your character, you need to understand how your character would act in a variety of situations. Keep in mind, your character, as far as yourself and your readers are concerned, are living breathing people. Imagine your character’s reaction if he/she were to accidentally run upon a snake. Would they stay calm and collected, or would they lose their cool? Knowing your characters well will shine through in your writing.

Physical Detail- Don’t Overdo it.

Yes, it’s important that your readers gain a mental image of your character, but you don’t need to dedicate an entire chapter to your character’s appearance. Give your readers some interesting information and move on. Every one needs a face to put with a name, but a sentence for every freckle isn’t needed.

Flaws are Required

Character development in fiction requires one thing above all else- make certain that your character, or characters, aren’t perfect. In order for your character to take part in an interesting conflict, your character needs flaws. If he/she is perfect, they will solve their problem quickly and move on. Unfortunately, so will readers. Character flaw allows readers to sympathize for your character and watch them grow.

Avoid the Stereotypical

It’s difficult, but avoiding the stereotypical is a must. Creating and developing unique characters hinges on your ability to be creative. It’s OK to garner ideas from other sources- I get them all the time- but a character should not be ridiculously similar to another from a similar genre. Use these ideas to form a base and twist them until they become living, breathing people that are yours and yours only.

Don’t Start at Rock Bottom

Readers won’t be interested in your story if your character has nothing to lose or gain as a result of the conflict. For example, if you’re going to start your character as a billionaire who has the perfect life, a story about that character winning the lottery won’t mean a whole lot. Likewise, if your character already has a miserable life to begin with, one more problem won’t interest readers a great deal. Just be sure to balance your character’s lifestyle with the conflict at hand so that your story is of interest to readers.

Character development in fiction can be a very interesting and fun experience, but if you want people to read your work, it has to be done correctly. Develop characters that people remember and characters that are specific to their personal experience with your story. Who knows, you may just create lifelong fans.

Interested in fiction? Jonathan Howard is a high school English teacher who authors an online site dedicated to the craft of creative writing. Click the following link for more on character development and to read OTMM, the sci-fi/fantasy thriller.
About Jonathan C Howard   

I’m an author and English teacher who lives in Eastern Kentucky. I think being a nerd is awesome, and anyone who doesn’t think so likely secretly thinks lightsabers are epic. I spend a majority of my time writing and promoting my Sci-Fi series Of Things Man Made- go read it!

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About jcladyluv

Jimmetta Carpenter is the Editor and Creator of the Free Fall Literary E-Zine and the Spoken Like A Queen E-Zine. She has dedicated herself to the power of the words and given into her passion for writing and has been writing poetry officially since the age of ten. She has a book of poetry titled “The Art of Love” published through lulu.com under the pen name Gemini. She is currently finishing up with her first novel and already working on her second. In 1998 she had her poem “Rest In Peace” published in an anthology put out by the International Library of Poetry and in the Spring of 2007 will have another poem titled “Through The Eyes of an Angel” published in another anthology also put out by the International Library of Poetry. She was also awarded the Editor’s Choice Award for that poem as well. She is looking forward to having a very long and rewarding career in writing and hopes that through living out her dreams she can inspire someone else out there to realize theirs. Her advice to other up and coming authors is to NEVER stop believing N your dreams and don’t ever be afraid to dream big. Jimmetta can be contacted by sending her an e-mail at freefall_lbp@yahoo.com or jcladyluv@yahoo.com.

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2013 by in The Craft of Writing and tagged , , , .

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