How to Develop a Character for Your Fiction Novel

How to Develop a Character for Your Fiction Novel

Whether we talk about Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, you’ll notice that the best fiction novels are based on mind-bending events and characters.

It is true that a good plot plays a vital role in exaggerating the twists and events within the book. Yet, it is the character development and the reader’s relatability to them that draws people into reading the whole book.

So, if you wish to craft a fiction writing masterpiece that the readers cannot get enough of, then you need to work on your characters and make them as relatable as you can. If you are new to this, here is a quick guide on how to develop the most powerful character in fiction books.

What is Character Development?

If you are wondering what does character development mean. In a well-written novel, the author crafts characters and makes them memorable by giving them goals, creating conflicts, and sending obstacles their way.

These literary aspects allow the readers to relate to the character. Plus, these aspects show the character’s development throughout the book, and that’s what keeps the readers hooked.

8 Key Elements of Character Development

Here are 8 key tips and elements of character development to help you with developing characters for your book.

1. Motivation

Give your character goals and challenges to overcome.

Harry Potter’s aim to defeat Lord Voldemort is a good example of goals and motivation that keep the character going.

There is a reason why even after decades, people still remember the character and love it from all of their hearts.

Motivation and an absolute goal make a strong character and an interesting story arc. Keep in mind your protagonist’s motivation and goals must be pictured before you start writing the book, as the rest of the story will be based around it.

2. Voice

The next thing you must finalize before starting to write the fiction book is who will be telling the story. You have three options when choosing the narrator for your book,

  • It can be in first person, which means that the book’s protagonist will narrate the whole story, using pronouns such as “I” and “me.”
  • You can also show a third-person point of view. You can also call it the voice of the god, where a being narrates the whole story without interfering in the story.
  • You can also narrate each chapter through a different character’s perspective, but this can be confusing for the readers to keep track of which character it is. In this case, an introduction of the narrator in the first few chapters can make more sense.

Your voice will determine the revelation of the whole story. If it is in the first person, then you will only be able to cover the events where the narrator is present, but if you choose the third person as a narrator, then you can expand your circle and talk about each character’s individual feelings and state

3. Suspense

Remember, suspense is an important element of character development, and it also makes a story more appealing to the reader. The secrets and the big revelation motivate a reader to read as much as they can in one sitting.

Need help writing your fiction novel?

Hancock Ghostwriters has a team of experienced fiction writers who can help you bring your envisioned plot to literary reality!

So, if you reveal too much at the beginning of the book, the readers will not have anything to look forward to. They can simply skip to the final chapter and see how it ends.

But when you take your time to reveal the information and build the tension bit by bit as the story moves forward, they get excited about the next part. It also fills the reader with emotions, from being suspicious to being shocked by the big revelation.

4. Conflict

This element of character development brings two opposing teams face to face. The majority of the time, the main leads from both sides face each other and decide the fate of the book.

But a conflict is not restricted to two parties having a huge battle to win.

It can be something else as well, for example:

  • If you have a strong and powerful character, the conflict can be something that they are weak against. For example, if your character is like Superman, his being stuck on an island made of Kryptonite can be the conflict.
  • The most common type of conflict is when a good guy and a bad guy are put against each other.
  • Conflict can be a character’s internal struggle as well. It can show the protagonist’s journey of overcoming that problem.

Conflict basically creates tension within the story and is needed to take it forward. Your conflict will put the character in a situation where the protagonist has to make a decision that will affect the whole story. 

5. Backstory

Every one of us has a past, and it is our past that helps us connect with people.

It is the same case with the fictional characters of a book. If you want readers to like and feel connected to them, you need to provide a backstory for your main characters.

Character development books for fiction writers

The backstory is an event of the past that influences your character’s actions in the present. This could be a mental health disorder, loss of a loved one, medical history, the family structure etc.

The backstory of every fictional character does not have to be mentioned in the books all the time. But it is for you to better understand your character. A backstory will help you figure out your character’s nature and justify their actions.

Most importantly, it is the backstory through which you show the current state of your character and their development in future chapters or sequels.

6. Personality

If your fictional character’s personality is not relatable, then the readers will have a hard time building any sort of attachment or sympathy for them.

They will just be like any other character who appeared for a brief moment in the book and never showed up again.

Design your characters based on some real personality traits. Talk about how they interact with people. Ask questions like:

● Does my character like to go out, or does it stay indoors with fewer people?
● Is your character ready to sacrifice for others, or does he/she have narcissistic personality and want others to follow command?

You can even give them attributes similar to the people you know. For example, if you have a cousin who is scared of bugs but not butterflies, create a character with such a trait.

Or you know someone you used to be afraid of as a kid but later found out that they were really good once you got to know them.

It will only make your characters more likable, and the readers will feel connected to them once they learn more about them.

7. Appearance

Talk about your character’s physical appearance, such as:

● eyes
● facial features
● hair color
● height
● physique and posture
● gestures and body language

If your fiction novel does not have many illustrations in it, the only way a character can visually appear is when they are featured on the cover.

Describe the character with words and help the readers envision what they look like. Talk about your character’s body language and voice. Readers will find the character more real when they know what they look like.

8. Secondary Characters

Lastly, your story cannot proceed with just one character. You are going to need to add some side characters to make the journey look more realistic. Take Watson from Sherlock Holmes or Jacob Black from Twilight as an example.

They are secondary characters, but they still play a huge part in reflecting the protagonist’s strengths, traits, and flaws. They also help your protagonist evolve as the story proceeds forward. If you have a flat character arc with no evolution over time, it will make the story turn boring, and the audience will start losing interest after a little time.

Character Introductions Have A Magical Charm. Read Our Blog On How To Introduce A Character 

Types of Fictional Characters

Now that we have discussed how you can easily develop fictional characters for your book, let us dig a little deeper and discuss each character type and how you can develop it.

1. Protagonist

The protagonist is the main character of your story, and you don’t have to limit them in terms of actions, personality type, appearance, backstory etc.

Perfect and extremely powerful can bore your readers and put the suspense and development elements off the book.

A great hero always emerges from difficulties that are thrown in their way, which is why it is important that your protagonist has some flaws that they can work on during the whole plot.

Your protagonist has to go through some changes over the story. It will add to their character arc and make them interesting for the readers.

2. Antagonist

Antagonists are the villains in your story, the ones who create hurdles in your protagonist’s adventure.

Antagonist should have their own set of morals, no matter how warped.
For example, if your villain is slaughtering thousands of people, you need to provide the readers with a believable reason for that.

You can also show that your antagonist is way more powerful than the protagonist. Readers like seeing the main character succeed, but it will not satisfy them if it happens easily. A powerful enemy will push your protagonist to gain new abilities to win.

3. Secondary Characters

Your secondary characters will act as assistants to the protagonist and antagonist.

They will motivate the protagonist, provide emotional support, and help them throughout the adventure. Secondary characters can also be funny and humorous for comic relief.

Remember that a secondary character does not always have to agree with everything the protagonist says. Your secondary characters are individual characters, and they must be allowed to have an opinion.

Why is Character Development Important?

A fictional novel consists of characters and a number of events that take place with time. Remember that your characters and the plot are attached to each other. The plot determines what will happen to the character, and similar to that, the character’s actions take the plot forward.

It is essential for a character to evolve with each event, otherwise without a proper understanding of what your character values, why they made a decision, or who they are in general, your reader will not be able to make sense of the events, leaving the story with no impact.

Similar to actual people, your fictional character should also have interesting hobbies, past stories, obsessions, regrets, and feelings. These characteristics will help the readers understand why a character is reacting in a certain way to a certain situation. Your character’s development also depends on these characteristics, as their reaction to a situation will carve into the next chapter.

5 Useful Books for Character Development

While all the elements of character development will come in handy when you start writing your fictional novel, here is an additional set of character development books to help you with the brainstorming and writing process:

Character development books for fiction writers

The Only Character Workbook You’ll Ever Need by T.M. Holladay

T.M. Holladay has deeply studied the characteristics and traits that are necessary for character design, such as personality types, character profiles, and relationship mapping, and has put them all in one workbook for new rising authors.

Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland

In this book, award-winning author K.M. Weiland has shared the methods she has used for writing an interesting and memorable character arc for the books. She also talked about the Three-Act Story Structure and how it plays a vital role in character development.

Character Development Journal: Everything You Need to Create Characters Your Readers Will Love by Sweet Harmony Press

It is a journal for beginner writers to understand what are the things one must put in a character so the readers love it. The journal has a detailed prompt from the character’s age to their physical appearance and personal background.

The Secret of Creating Character Arc (Growing Authors Out of Writers) by John S. Warner

This book will tell you all about how a character’s development affects a story. From making or breaking your character to what things you must do to make your character more appealing to the audience, this book has it all.

Character Keeper by Tallstrunt Press Designs

Character Keeper is a book filled with questions that will help you better understand your characters, be they the main characters or secondary ones. As you answer each question, you will get a better understanding of what your character is and how you can make it even better.

Looking for Someone to Help you with Character Development?

Are you looking for someone to guide you as you create a character for your fiction book?
Get in touch with Hancock Ghostwriters, and we’ll design a character while you invest your energy in refining the plot.

Hancock Ghostwriters is a hub of experienced and skilled writers on board who understand the place your book holds in your heart. We make sure that each character in your book is unique and interesting at the same time so the reader can connect with them.

Want to create a character worth remembering?

Get in touch with Hancock Ghostwriters and we’ll walk you through the process.

Wrapping Up

So,  the guide to character development concludes here. We hope that our tips and elements will be of great assistance to you. Keep in mind that your character does not have to be perfect. Give them flaws, and then give them time to shine. Only then your story will be good enough for the readers to enjoy and even remember it for a long time.

Pitch Your Book Idea