Creative Fiction Writing Workshop: Character Development

by : Kat Jaske

Would you recognize your characters if you ran into them on the street?

Answering a resounding “yes" to this question indicates you have been able to develop solid, plausible characters in your fiction stories.

Make your characters come alive, whether in good or bad ways. Let them talk. This means using dialogue. However, you need to also provide vivid descriptions of the characters’ mannerisms or facial expressions or body expressions. Your readers must be able to create a visual picture of your characters, as well as hear what they are saying.

Pay particular attention to how your characters interact with other people in the story. How they behave toward others reveals much about their character. Are they kind? Abrupt? Intelligent? Funny? Weird? Concerned? Evil? Strong? Controlling? You need to convey these traits to a reader in a way that will inspire your reader to love, hate, admire, or feel SOMETHING about the people you have created.


“And she hates you."
“With a passion and what a passion."
“And what have you done to earn such ire from such a young woman?" Tonie seemed mildly amused by the man.

“I tried to force her to marry me. I shot one of her oldest and dearest friends down in cold blood and killed him." He didn’t even pause for breath as he listed his catalog of worthy accomplishments. “I betrayed my own brother. And I shot her lover in front of her eyes. A pity Frederick William wouldn’t give up on the man or he would have died. As it was it took him months to recover. I guess you could say the woman has a personal vendetta against me. Will there be anything else, madame?" he concluded with a practiced politeness.

“Not at the moment." Tonie left the room, Konrad on her heels. She stopped long enough to pull Greg aside and give him instructions in regard to the pursuit of one Laurel d’Anlass. “Ever try betraying me, and I’ll kill the woman myself, Konrad."

“I would expect nothing less. But, my lady Tonie, I highly recommend you do not seek to threaten me."

“Take it as a threat if you will, Konrad. But you have shown your weakness, my dear." Tonie’s barbed words struck with more force than even she realized. “In that warped heart of yours you love Laurel and could never kill her without dying yourself. So don’t push me unless you want me to take all control out of your hands and make you lose any possibility of ever possessing that beautiful, young woman."

In the above scene from the coming book, Righting Time by Kat Jaske, even though you have not read the book, you can discern much about the characters. Note that Konrad is speaking rapidly and doesn’t even pause for breath as he rattles off his list of worthy accomplishments. He is polite, but it is not real. He has a “practiced" politeness. These behaviors help the reader to instinctively dislike the man. Readers quickly realize that Tonie is a killer since she is amused by evil deeds and so easily states she will kill Laurel herself.

Who is in control here? Tonie or Konrad? Near the end you see that Tonie controls this scene, but Konrad pushes back when she threatens him. These two people are fighting to establish who is really in control.

Note also the double use of the word “passion." Although one would not normally use the same word twice so close in the same sentence, this is much more powerful and descriptive than saying, “With a great passion." Kat Jaske