The Cast- Developing Your Cast Of Characters

By: Scott Lindsay

One of the most important things you can do in writing a novel is to take the time to really get to know the cast because your cast of characters will likely make or break your novel.

Some writers will begin writing a story based on an idea without really thinking much about their characters. The hope is that they will get to know the characters as the story develops. The truth is, this rarely happens and the characters can appear to the readers as anemic and rather forgettable.

When you take the time to develop the character you are investing in a unique depth to your work. The characters will be intensely loved, hated, pitied, feared or forgotten completely.

A few questions to ask yourself when developing a character...

Does the character have any unique physical characteristics or flaws that may be important to the story?

Does the character have any baggage that hinders them emotionally and how does that information effect how their interact with other characters?

Does the character have a strong belief system? In what? How strong will they stand up for their belief system?

Does the character have any idiosyncrasies that may play a role in the storyline?

Is the character a primary or supporting character?

What kind of personality do they have? Are they likely to get angry or are they passive?

Try to log every trait you can about each character and refer back to the character logbook when you want to determine how the character might respond in a certain situation. This can also help you keep your characters distinguished one from another and assist you in allowing you character to react in a way that is true to their nature – even when their reaction is unexpected.

Sometimes writers will have a character do something simply because they need the story to move in a specific direction. A character logbook can help you determine who might be the best character to move the story in a new direction or if a combination of characters in a more specific situation might be a better alternative.

By understanding your cast before you actually begin to write the story the greater creative freedom you are likely to find in the execution of your story. You may also find fewer revisions are needed because you knew the characters very well before you gave them permission to speak to your readers.

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