12 Days of Planning Your Novel: Character Development

Next in my series - 12 Days of Planning Your Novel, I'm talking about character development.

Welcome to post number three in my 12-post series about planning a novel. 12 Days of Planning Your Novel is a fun tribute to the 12 Days of Christmas with the goal of being ready start writing your novel during the actual twelve days of Christmas (December 25 - January 5). Here’s where you can find the first two posts.

Step 1: Brainstorm

Step 2: Research

Now that you know what genre you want to write and have started your research, it’s time to talk about the key thing that makes your story come alive: your characters.

The characters of the stories we read are what pull us in. We live vicariously through them and we feel what they feel so it’s really important to do some thinking about your characters before you start writing your novel.

If you already have an idea for what you want to write about, there’s a good chance some characters have started forming in your mind as well. Today I want you to start making some notes and thinking about details that are really going to make your characters come alive.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a story idea yet. That’s totally okay. If you don’t know what your story is going to be about, you can use the genre you’ve chosen or favourite characters you’ve read about to help you start creating your own characters.

For example, I’m going to be writing a romance so I know I’m going to have two people that will fall in love. In many romances there is also a third person that creates tension and conflict.

The more you can put your characters through, the more exciting and relatable your story will be. We will revisit this when we get into detailed plotting. For now, I want you to start thinking about character details like this:

The fundamentals: name, sex, race, age, birth date, occupation.

Once I have the fundamentals down, I like to start adding personality details. This part can be a lot of fun.

Personality: quirks, dislikes, weaknesses, guilty pleasures, fears, secret talents, etc.

Next in my series, 12 Days of Planning Your Novel, I'm talking about character development. Here are some tips to creating memorable characters your readers won't forget.

There are two different schools of thought around character development. Some people believe you should have as many details as possible and know absolutely everything about your characters before writing your novel. If I did this, I would never start writing my books, so I like to jot down a few main things and go from there.

If you like the idea of knowing as many details about your characters as possible, you can create their back story and life history. It can be a lot of fun to find images of what your characters might look like too.

The key with your characters is they need to act consistently otherwise your story won’t be believable. So, if you have a character who is deathly afraid of heights, you’d have to have a life threatening reason for them to be on the roof of a building.

If you’d like to learn even more about character development, check out my writing coach, Kevin T. Johns’s 4-part series. You can find part 1 here:

How to Create Charismatic Characters - Part 1: Assigning Physical Attributes

You might also enjoy these posts about character development:

What is Character Development - Writer’s Digest

Character Development: How to Write Characters Your Readers Won’t Forget - Reedsy

Now, go create some memorable characters and let me know how it goes!