So, you wanna be a writer? Character Development

Character Development

Sometimes, a story can come from one idea, a what if? That’s how my Bones, Ashes and Dust Trilogy began; one simple what if? What if the Angel of Death sent to collect a soul decided to save it instead? But sometimes, it’s a character that comes alive and kicking and screaming – if not fully formed – from your imagination.

This is what happened with Dragon Rider. This is Willow Ravenwood:

Willow

Willow is a witch, a street kid and a bit of rebel. This character was supposed to be at the centre of the novel I was writing but, in the end, the story took over and the novel became about someone and something else. This can happen and I will probably talk about that in later posts.

So, before all that happened, I knew I wanted to write a fantasy novel, set in England, in the future, in a world where Faeries have taken over and have become the dominant species. I also knew I wanted to have a strong central female character. I don’t know how it happened, but as I was ruminating about this scenario in my mind, this character, Willow, pretty much formed in my head.

My first job was to draw her. This helps as a reference when you’re writing. I often forget what colour eyes my characters have, or where their tattoos are and a drawing is a good reference point. My drawing is quite crude but helped me to visualise Willow quite well. If you can’t draw, go through magazines and find a person that fits what you’re looking for. Cut the person out and use that as your template. I did this with most of my characters in the Bones, Ashes and Dust Trilogy, even researching what clothes my character would most likely wear and when. This was especially fun with my main character because she was an EMO and I loved looking at the fashion and picking outfits.

Next, I usually fill out a character profile. This answers questions such as; name, address, age, the birthday of each character as well as their favourite things to do, favourite food, their favourite books and all of that kind of thing. Most of this won’t get used but it’s important to know because it informs your writing as you’re doing it. It’s kinda stored in your memory and helps you get to know your character.

So, I’ve included a free printout of a basic character profile with this post. It won’t fit every character or genre but it is a good starting point from which you can add and take things away from the list. What I want you to do, is, either draw a character or find a person in a magazine and cut them out. I want you to begin making them an outline by printing out the basic profile and filling it in, giving them a name, an age, an occupation or a school that they go to. I want you to give them favourite books, a favourite movie and I want you to turn them into a living, breathing character. What do they want?  What are their fears? What gets them going? What do they get out bed for?

Have a play. A great character may just appear and surprise you! Maybe it might even produce a great idea for a story! Have a go at building a character and have some fun!

Character Guide in word

Character Guide in PDF

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