Hello Readers! Special Message here: If I seem short during this How To Tuesday, blame WordPress. I had been working on this post for more than a week, almost 2000 words put into it, and then WordPress decided to be a butt and delete it all. So here is attempt number two!
Some writers will tell you that naming characters is the hardest part. To develop them all you have to do is write out their story and their arc, then edit it in later drafts. I think that it really depends on the character. Whether or not their arc is a wide sweeping arc or a simple event that sets their actions. Being a writer, and having several characters, I can tell you that sometimes their arcs come easy, and then other times it will be several drafts in and I will be staring at a blank page thinking “Who the hell are you? What the F*@K do you want?”
To write developed characters, with complete arcs and growth, there are three things to keep in mind: Backstory, Mid-story and post story.
Backstory is important, but not always relevant to the specific scene you’re writing. You should make it match your character, but not too obvious that the reader feels like they were fooled. Unless your character is the luckiest person in the world, everything is not going to just fall into their lap. They have to work to get where they are when your story starts. They have to have failures and successes. Not just one or the other.
Depending on your story and your character arc, your backstory determines how your character will react to certain situations in your plot. If your character is in a bank robbery, whether they are a trained soldier, or a guy who adamantly hates guns and violence will change how they react to the gunmen.
In the middle of the action, your characters decisions determine their growth and their arc. There are generally two reactions to growth in story. Your character can either accept the changes, or fight them tooth and nail. There are a thousand choices, several types of growth, but it all basically boils down to “I accept this” or “Not in a million years”.
The most important thing in Mid-Story character development is consistency. If your character encounters a barking dog at the beginning of the story and is scared of it, then if they encounter the dog again in the middle and are not scared, there better have been some kind of growth in between.
Post Story is probably the least important development, but it is still important. Unless your character dies at the end of your work, or they are braindead, they still have to grow after the events of the story. Post story is more important if you are working on a series, but for stand-alone is still relevant.
Post Story is what happens “after the credits”. The hero has saved the girl (or vice versa), the evil baddie has been taken care of and all is well. So what are the hero/ girl’s plans after? Some choose to let the reader decide, hence the “Rides off into the sunset” ending. Still, some others add in small hints throughout the piece. Like for instance, your character loves knitting and is working on a blanket, but they are pulled into this elaborate plot against the president. “ALL I WANT IS TO FINISH MY DAMN BLANKET!” is repeated several times in your piece.
Post story they better finish their damn blanket.
No matter what your plot or your character arcs, do your best to keep them consistent and your characters will be well developed and readers will thank you for it!