Just as a fictional character can make a book shine, it’s the people we care about who bring the heart and love and emotion to our lives.
This thought rolls around my head every October. I have two good friends who celebrate birthdays this month, one on the 4th and the other on the 16th. My grandmother celebrated her birthday on the 16th as well, and three years ago a family member passed on the same day.
So, October always makes me think of the people I love, those still here and those who are gone. I’m reminded of their strengths and vulnerabilities, their smiles and their laughter, the quirky things they say and do, but mostly I’m reminded of how they make (or made) me feel. Those feelings linger long after the end of a visit or a life.
A good book is peopled with characters who linger in the minds of readers long after the final page too. Sounds easy, right?
It’s not. It’s hard work creating characters who are nuanced and real. It takes effort, skill and refining (translation: rewriting).
Many craft books have chapters or entire sections on developing good characters, but if you’re serious about writing, it’s worth having a few books devoted specifically to character development on your shelf. Here are some to consider:
Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure by K. M. Weiland
Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress
For quicker reads, check out these blogs on character development: