This is the character development of your outline.
Guides and/or guardians
Animal companion (optional)
You can break this down as detailed or as simplified as you need, but to have some statistics on hand is always helpful when you just cannot remember whether John’s eyes were green or blue, and you do not feel like going back to reread everything you last wrote.
Weapon of choice
Name & nicknames
This is a basic format and you can use all or some of these stats. It would be confusing to have Jane’s sandy blond hair in the beginning end up as dark as a raven’s feather in the twilight hours at the end. Your readers will pick up on that. Trust me. Now that is just scratching the surface of your characters. As you begin writing their stories, keep an open mind because even a well developed character might surprise you.
For instance, I once had a love interest turn out to be the evil villain. Who could have predicted that?
Moving on. There are a few fun exercises you can practice to develop your characters.
Create a dialog between your protag and antag. What would your protagonist want to ask the antagonist?
If your antagonist had a hobby, what would it be, and write a scene in which he/she/it is working on that hobby.
Explain in three sentences why the Guardian is helping your protag.
If your protagonist was villain for a day, write a paragraph or two of his/her goals. Why is he on that path? What drove him to the “dark side”? Does he continue down that destructive road, or does he reform in the end?
“What is the point of this,” you may ask. When you try to write your characters outside the realm of the story, you’re free to discover more. The reader may not know every detail of every character–indeed, they should not, some things are best left a mystery–but this will inhance your experience. You as a writer should never stop asking questions, you should never stop learning. Think of yourself as a talented journalist, willing to travel into the battlefield to get The Story of a Lifetime. Follow your characters around relentlessly, get inside their heads, haunt their dreams, become so connected to them that you almost become the serial killer on his angry rampage.
…On second thought, do not get that close. That is just a little frightful.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive one level deeper…
What will your character ultimately gain from this adventure?
What will they lose?
Pain can be a powerful driving force. Readers connect with characters that are struggling. Knock them off their pedastal a step. Some of the most iconic, well rounded characters have a difficult past.
I have never met a strong person with an easy past.
In my new book coming out, I delve into the whole idea of give and take. In order to earn something, you must lose something else, and the greater the gain, the bigger the loss. There is a battle of emotions, the anger against seemingly unfair circumstances, and the bitter resolve to accept their situation. But this is what makes the characters feel real. This is what makes them leap off the page and into your readers’ lives. Do not skimp on the pain your characters feel, do not gloss over it. Explore it, dig deeper, and ask the hard questions.
Are you ready? Get to work. Research, outline, and start developing your characters.
Homework today involves fleshing out your characters. Fill out the description sheet and play with some of those fun exercises, post in the comments section your progress. Do you find this helpful?
Good luck and Dream Big!