Characters are the greatest features of a literary work. Which determines how good or interesting a story will be or is. Knowing how to develop believable characters is very key for every writer.
Since characters are made to play out the plots and actions in a literary work, how good or poor your story is, would be dependent on how well you represent and develop your characters.
Good characters are achieved by doing a little extra homework before you write your story. You need to make out time for character creation and development. At the same time, ensure to create characters that feel real and believable, to have an easy connection between your readers and the imaginary world in your story.
For your characters to be believable, your readers need to feel the originality of the characters. Give them qualities of real-life humans, and present them in a way that your readers can picture them as they read.
Let’s find out how to do that.
How to Develop Real Characters in a Story
1. Define the Characters
Create a personality for your characters. Don’t make them feel like static objects, give life to them. Assign them attributes of living persons that your readers can relate with. Attributes like; gender, age, name, height, skin tone, eye colour, occupation, relationship to the protagonist, and their roles in the story. Having these outlined, gives you an in-depth picture of your characters, what they can say, do, and how they would feature or react to certain situations.
2. Be Original and Unpredictable
When developing characters, bear in mind that originality and unpredictability are very important. Your readers would feel quite more connected to your imaginary world if they can relate your characters to real-life people.
Describe; ‘how that girl flutters her eyelashes whenever she talks to a handsome male to whom she is attracted’.
‘How the grey-haired man pushes down his eyeglasses to give a cautioning look to his mischievous daughter‘.
And if they possess some unpredictable features; say a girl with facial hairs, a fair handsome young man with an unusual freckle on his left chin, a bow-legged kid in tardy clothes, or a charming young lady with a deep masculine voice. Just have your readers wowed by the unusual concept and spur them to desire to read and know what new interesting story lies beyond the next pages.
3. Assign Aspirations and Goals
Create a purpose, aspirations, and goals for your characters. Let them have aspirations, goals, hurdles, and dilemmas just like humans in a real-life scenario.
4. Build Your Characters’ Personality
Create them to have preferences, priorities, emotions, desires, hopes, inspirations, wants, and secrets.
5. Develop Flaws and Weaknesses in Characters
There is no living perfect human, so add flaws and weaknesses to make your characters feel real and believable. Just like earlier mentioned in #2 about being unpredictable. Flaws can create unpredictability. That angelic-looking lady could be bipolar, have an internal sickness, or always makes irrational decisions. Create obstacles for them to overcome, and targets to strive to reach.
6. Let Characters Evolve Over Time
Growth and change are the two constant things in life. Let the characters grow, evolve, and change. The perception of a character at a younger age shouldn’t be the same as the age advances in the story. The way a character talks or reacts should change after a traumatic experience….the impact of events, positive or negative should effect a change on a character just like in real-life cases.
Knowing how to develop characters in a story should be the goal of every fiction or aspiring fiction writer. Having believable characters populate your story creates an endless connection between your readers and your story. When your story feels real, a reader finds themselves immersed in the setting of your story, and even dreams more of the story after they are done reading. You know that great feeling that comes from reading a very interesting story where you wish the last page never comes? You just want the story to go on and on.
Predictable stories and characters can discourage the number of reads you get. I for one stopped reading romantic fiction from two popular book lines because of constant predictability. So, I got fed up and switched from romance and super romance to thrillers where the story harboured some suspense and excitement for me. James Hardley Chase was one of the great thriller writers that gave me a good and memorable read.
Don’t get me wrong, there are great intriguing romantic reads like the ones from Bertha M Clay. Just don’t forget when next you write that fiction readers read for some excitement.
Kindly let me know in the comment section if you found this helpful.