Developing Your Story
Part One:  Creating Your Characters

Character Developement
Plot Development
The Setting
Checking Story

How can you write a story without characters.  Your story plot is one thing.  But your characters can either make or break your story.  Stale characters make stale stories.   Boring characters, make for boring stories.  Hopefully we can remedy that.  I've compiled a nice little section on how to create vivid, believable characters.

I.  Character Development
     A. Gestalt (simpliest way)
          1. Take a person you know
          2. Write down the way you think of that person
          3. Then write the character

     B.  From a list chart
          1. Answer the following questions
              a. Birthplace
              b. Nationality
              c. Morals
              d. Ambitions
              e. Education
              f. Character flaws
              g. Habitual mannerisms
              h. Fears
               i. Frustrations
               j. Taste in sexual partners

      C.  Creating a character to suit the action
            1. People are what they do
                a. If someone is going to kill
                    1.) Needs to be someone to have the means
                          a.) Ability
                    2.) Motive
                          a.) Desire
                    3.) A role in life that places him/her next to the victim
                          a.) Opportunity
                    4.) Temperment
                    5.) Morality

II.  The three types of characters
     A. Main characters
          1. Has the problem to solve
          2. Generally wants something
          3. Tries to do something
          4. There is only one main character

     B. Secondary characters
          1. Other important characters
          2. Vital to story
          3. Along for the ride, but solve their own problems along the way
          4. Generally people close to your main character

     C.  Minor and bit characters
          1. Minor characters
              a. Generally have names
              b. Reader learns a little bit about them, but not much
              c. Villians are often minor characters
          2. Bit characters
              a. Aren't really characters at all
              b. Generally do their thing then leave

Some General Pointers On Character Development

How To Make Your Characters Function

Some Things to Consider

Creaing Your Character's Identity

Creating characters out of thin air is an undaunting task.  I generally watch people in public places like malls or parks.  Use people you know in your lives and mold them into your characters.  Take a characteristic traits from your friends or family and put them together to create a character.  Keep it original.  Make your characters interesting and believable. People are impressed that I can create characters out of the thin air.  But I take a lot from just watching people.

Some things to look for:

All these things make your character.  They aren't all details that need to be known to your reader, but they provide traits that make your characters react to situations placed in front of them. Provides limits to solve their conflict.

For my WGIA novels, my main character Stefanie is Jewish.  While that isn't a trait, it's a religion but it provides obstacles because of it.  She has to deal with prejudices.  The fact that she is a woman only enhances the problem to succeed.  She always feels she has to prove something because she is Jewish and a woman in a male dominated workplace.

* Author's Note: WGIA is a fictious German Intelligence Agency that I created for my series of novels and screenplays. None of my work has (or unlikely to be) been don't ask me about it. <G>

The Character Sketch

Huh? Focus? What is Zeus' name is FOCUS all about?

How did I know you were going to ask that.  List your characteristics of your main character that make him or her interesting or unusual. From this list, choose ONE idea of which you think you can build a character sketch on.

Still confused about this FOCUS thing?  I am to. Just go with it.  It's my impression that you take a single trait and build on that.


Stefanie is a Jewish woman from Munich, Germany.  I use the fact that is Jewish to show what type of problems she has to deal with.  Not only does she live and work in a country that executed millions of her people, she has to contend with anti-semtic culture that still resides in Germany among many of the citizens.  Her being Jewish makes her react to certain situations differently than what her Christian counterparts might react.

I built the character of Stefanie off the fact she is Jewish.  That is what focus means in my opinion.

(How about that for example...)

Also, one more thing -- Don't tell your reader about the character, show the reader.

Making Your Characters Talk

Dialogue is important. (I didn't need to tell you that did I?)

Writing dialogue is sometimes trying.  Write as you talk. Try not to use complicated words (the kind that will make the reader search for the nearest dictionary).

Listen to Your Characters Watching Your Characters

Watch your characters... Notice how they walk, move about, run...

This should about cover it for character development.  Make your characters interesting.  Make them fun. Make your villians the baddest, meanest people around.  Make your hero have that fatal flaw.  Make your hero's sidekick or partner ask a lot of questions... yadda... yadda...

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This page was created on May 12, 1999.
This page was last updated on: May 25, 1999
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