Character Development Tips and Tricks

I have been working solidly on the character development for a new fantasy fiction story I have been working on. I have recently scrapped several attempts at a different story because I found my characters to be far too unrealistic. I thought I would share with you some of the things I have been doing lately to create realistic, likeable characters.

1) Write a brief description of each character. I ran a google search to find a worksheet that had dot points I could just fill in. One comprehensive profile I really liked can be found here:  Another lengthy profile outline I liked was from here:

2) Get to know your character. I imagine I am having a conversation with the character. I like to visualise how they may be standing, any quirks and mannerisms, tone of voice, accent etc. It makes me feel a bit like a talk show host, and I really enjoy this part of the process. It may seem like I am talking to myself, but I know better.

3) Talk about the character with someone if you can. I find this helps me pick up holes in the story. My boyfriend is pretty quick to tell me if he doesn't like a character and why. He also makes suggestions for how he thinks a character would act in a given situation. This is great because it helps me see my character in another light.

4) Create a photo chart so you can visualise what they look like. I google things like: 'Male brunette with blue eyes'. I find a photo of someone who matches the idea I have in my head. This is a good reference point for later when your brain is foggy and you can't remember what your hero looks like.

5) Write a short story centering around the character. This can be some back story, a childhood story or anything else you can think of. This makes the character seem so much more real, and you already have a good grasp of how they speak and act before you start writing your novel. For my own part I am currently writing a prequel to the series that I want to write. My main characters are in childhood, and it explains how their personalities are developed. I do not plan on anyone ever reading this prequel. 

These are just a small selection of what you can do to create the best characters you possible can. I would love to hear any other suggestions you may have. Happy writing!


  1. Those links you provided were great. I like the idea of building up a profile of each character. I've done this myself but in a very loose form. I tend to be free form in a lot of ways and it often gets me into trouble.

    Another thing I've found that helps is finding places where your character might frequent and observing people in that environment. For example, if your character loves art, go and visit an art gallery and observe the people there. Make notes about what they're doing, how they interact with other people, their facial expressions, mannerisms. Likewise, if your character loves horses, seek out a riding club and do the same thing.

    It all assists in bringing nuance to your characters, adding a sense of realness to them.

    Although be careful. I had to go and research in a grimy pub in a really dangerous part of town for my upcoming novel and it was a little freaky. Sitting at one end of the bar with a red leather journal and pencil drew more than a few dark glowers.

    1. Hi Dean,

      I have always been rather loose with my character development and it has always had a negative impact on my story. I end up with characters behaving in an unnatural, unbelievable way. This time I'm determined to do it right.

      In a way I've often gone to places my character would go (I even recently tried my hand at archery), but I tend not to observe the other people. I definitely will from now on, though, as it seems like a really great idea. I'll try to be subtle though.

      Eek, be careful in grimy pubs! Although full points for creditable research!

  2. Wonderful ideas! I tend to have conversations with my characters too so I know exactly what you're talking about. Like Dean, I also visit places my characters would go. i.e. my heroine in the Deadly Series is an investigative reporter so I've spent time at our local paper. Her love interest is a fireman and I've also been known to hang out with the boys down at the station. Doing things your characters would do helps you to get inside their head and tell you how to handle the current situation. It also tends to give you a few interesting storyline ideas.

    An excellent post, thanks for sharing!!

    1. Hi Amy, thanks for sharing your thoughts. How did you manage to get the 'ins' to be able to visit those places? I would need to overcome some serious shyness to be able to even timidly ask if I could visit!


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