How to Develop your Characters

The definition of Character development is the process of building a unique believable person and/or the changes that the character goes through during the story.


Character development is essential not only to your readers but to the story itself. Now you can go into their flaws, quirks, and upbringing, but to be honest, there is so much more to it than that. Let’s set aside character arcs for now because that is a whole other animal to tackle. Instead, let’s focus on building the character.


I have been writing for some time. However, all of my stories have been short. So this whole novel thing has been an adventure. I’ve had to read many books and attended Google University. I have also been honored to be a part of this fantastic community. If you have a question, all of these wonderful creators will answer them.


And through this journey, I wanted to share how I build my characters in the simplest way possible, a list.

Order in arrangement from most important to least, who gets a name and who doesn’t, and finally, what’s their goal or do they need any.


First! Categorize, this is how I break down my characters:

  • Main characters (protagonists and antagonists, because bad guys need the same love as the heroes).

  • Supporting characters or sidekicks - the best friends to the stars of the story.

  • Honorable mentions - they need names, but not much else.

  • The nameless – you know that one guy who took the horse to the stable? Yeah, me either.


Second, to name or not to name.


A couple of months ago, I had an epiphany regarding my characters and their development. I was struggling to come up with names for some minor, easily forgettable people. Now I know what your thinking ‘. You shouldn’t name characters who don’t have an impact on the story. I know, I know! But hear me out on this.

When you are at an event, meeting, school function, you are introduced to new people. You may forget them an hour later, but you at least heard their name. To me, it is a sign of respect and acknowledgment. Do you need their backstory? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends if they have an impact somewhere.


Here are some helpful questions to ask:

  • Will they return later in the story? If no. Don’t name them. Not every stranger you meet gives you their name.

  • Do they have an essential role within the story, such as a member of a household, friend of someone important, etc. but will not be mentioned again? Yes, give them a first name only.

  • Does said character have a minimal light role and will make a minor if not a significant impact later in the story? Yes, they need a name.


Third, backstory.


So how much backstory do you need for your creations?


It should stand to reason that you need to know how your babies will react in certain situations. You should also understand why they act the way they do. But is there such a thing as too much development for the stars of your story? I want to say no. But that doesn’t mean you need to create a forty-two-page biography on them either. Let me show you an example of one of my main characters in The Witch’s Crystal. I used the character development section from The Writer Community’s Series Bible.


Main characters:

  • Derek Arundel (I have removed some information to protect y