You will often hear that when people discuss characters for a story they will tell you that they are the most important and that is them which drive the story. This is a very true point but what many fail to do is talk about exactly how you go about developing a character. This is certainly something which I struggled with when I first began to write short stories. I was greatly inspired to this end by people like screenwriter Roger Wolfson,, who was able to create some great characters in shows like Law & Order, they characters had a real believability to them which I just loved. This is what a great character is all about, helping the reader or viewer to relate, and here are some tips on how you can create a character which is just like that.
Something which I have always found beneficial is to take the character and understand why they are in the story in the first place. This is of course going to be critical to how the story pans out, why is the character there, who do they know and where are they going? Once you have an understanding of this then you can start working yourself back through the character’s life, which will be greatly helped by what their present looks like. Don’t ever be scared of adding too much depth to a character when you are developing them, you can always dispel some stuff at a later date.
The question asked above about where the character is going speaks directly to what their motivations are, ask yourself why they are even in the story. Every single character has a reason for being there, perhaps they are to act as some kind of mirror so that another character can realize something about themselves, perhaps they are a representation of a larger theme, or perhaps they are there to play the antagonist and to become something of a bad and hated character. The key is understanding exactly why they are there and what their function is in the story, if you are able to understand that then you can fill out the character better and you can write in a way which is befitting of them.
Draw on Life
A character is not just going to be something that you pull from thin air, at least not every time, and you should really look to base your character on personality traits of people who you have known in your lifetime. This is one of the really cool things about character development, that you can base a character on people you have met, and sort of pick and choose bits that you like and dislike from others. Some of this will be invented of course, but using people you know really helps to build a solid foundation.
Spend the time on the characters and it will pay dividends when it is time to write the story.