Writing

Story: Characters

Let us take a jog down memory lane. Think about your favourite story or novel. What is the first thing you remember about the book? There is a very good chance, it is one of the main characters of the book. Memorable characters can make or break a story. Let us learn how to develop characters while writing a story.

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Development of Characters

In any well-written story, the plot line is supported by some strong well-developed characters. And it is not just the main hero character, but even the supporting characters must be well written and fleshed out. Let us take a look at a few pointers we can keep in mind when writing characters for a story.

Story: Characters(Source: writingcooperative)

Physical Characteristics of the Character

The first thing you must focus on is the name you want to give a particular character. The important thing is that the name is memorable and relevant to the character. For example, if your character is a detective, then a name like Daniel Storm seems more appropriate then a run of the mill name like John Smith.

The next step would be to determine the age of the character. Whether it is an adolescent boy or an old lady or a young child on his sixth birthday, the age of the character is essentially a very important detail of a story. And then you move on to their physical attributes depending on their age.

Giving your character some unique physical characteristics will make the character stand out and be memorable. For example, the scar on Harry Potter’s forehead was such a smart move by the author. It tied up the whole story together beautifully.

Developing a Backstory

A complex and engrossing backstory just makes a character that much more engaging and believable. You must give the writer a reason for your characters current behaviour or motivation, and this is done via their backstory. A good place to start developing a backstory would be the character’s childhood.

The family background of a character is also important. For example, if your protagonist is a lost soul, then his backstory could be one of his family abandoning him in unusual circumstances during his childhood. Take for example the backstory of Huckleberry Finn, and thus his lack of decorum and stability in his story.

There are other factors you can also focus on when developing a backstory for a character, like his nationality, his schooling or even his relationship status. All these can be used to add layers to the characters personality.

The Character’s Intentions and Motivation

Here is where we will develop the crux of the story. Every good story must have a conflict. Whether you provide a resolution to this conflict or not, can depend on the story. But a good conflict is a necessity to give the story a purpose. Now this conflict can be an internal struggle the character faces.

Say for example the character, Alex, must choose between living with his Mom or his Dad after their divorce. The conflict here is the choice he must make. It is his inner dialogue and struggle. To show and write his thoughts will be a part of his backstory.

Another aspect you can include is the hopes and dreams of the character. This will give the readers a clear indication of what motivates the character to do or not do something. For example, you may have a character tired of the hustle bustle of his important job, and he is looking for a quiet place to pursue his dreams of being a piano player. This is what pushes him to finally quit his job.

So as you can see, character development is a nuanced job and has many aspects to it. A well-developed character will take the story forward flawlessly and leave the reader with a lasting impression.

Solved Question for You

Q: A/An __________ character is one in whom the main character confides and thus helps reveal the latter’s personality, thoughts or intentions.

  1. Flat
  2. Antagonist
  3. Stock
  4. Confidante

Ans: The correct answer is “D”. A confidant or confidante is a character of the story who the protagonist will confide it. It will be a character the protagonist trusts and considers a friend.

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