Hi Fellow Writers
There are quite a few ways to develop a character. Perhaps just a name and run it through the plot until it develops a body and a personality. Maybe fleshing out a living breathing character more alive then your mother before you’ve written your first sentence. What I like to do is develop the outline of a character before pushing it through the gauntlet of a plot. How I develop characters is a way I call Desire, Flaw, Backstory.
A name while useful is not necessary at this immediate moment.
For the sake of an example I’ll call my character Dwight.
A desire: Every character needs a desire, something to motivate them to move through the entire length of the story. i.e. Captain Ahab wants Moby Dick. Even if only the main characters desire is developed, creating a desire for minor characters helps characterize them into living people.
For Dwight his desire is to spend the rest of his Saturday mornings and the rest of his weekend mornings watching cartoons when he was just a kid. (He wants to live in nostalgia)
A flaw: For a character to be a interesting they need to be imperfect. Perhaps they are rash, a disregard for the law, or racist assholes. It doesn’t have to be the point of the story or even resolved but it helps to flesh your character out i.e. Han Solo is arrogant, misogynistic and a criminal.
For Dwight, he can’t accept reality. he wishes to preserve nostalgia by not acknowledging the hardships of adulthood. As such he is a coach potato and barely survives off a job at Burger King, flipping burgers.
Backstory: A good character has history, moments in their life which defines how they are as a character. In this part I prefer to write (I prefer to write around 250 words) a moment in their life that defines what I think they are as a character. This part can be inconsequential or important to the main plot. This helps make your character come alive as well as be the perfect way to start writing.
When the softball landing on Gus’s head immediately cut to the sound of a black screen, Dwight felt a cold shock thrum at his heart strings. After some time pressing every button on his remote control he checked his watch, which dug into his wrist. He had a good half hour left until he had to leave for his shift. Straining to lift himself off his armchair his arm swiped a Burger King bag, knocking cold fries over the carpet. He cursed but the carpet had already lost its original colour to some pukish pink. He pushed himself to look through the crack between his TV and the electrical outlet. Everything looked fine. He cursed again stumbling out to his front door. It was cold, and he wished he had brought his coach blanket with him. Looking up at his antennae it looked perfect, not a problem in the world.
“Well isn’t this a fine morning to take a walk”
Dwight blinked rapidly, shielding his eyes from the brightness of the sun. His neighbour was standing behind a well manicured hedge, his face obscured by the sun.
“Dwight is it, I fair reckon that Star War jammies is odd sort of wear for a big lad such as yourself”
“Uh I-I gotta get back inside” Dwight stammered, before running back into the house. Dwight didn’t like his neighbour. Didn’t know his name, but pried like how his Dad pried into his life.