When you write fiction, your story hinges on the characters you create. So for me today, C is for Characters. You could have a splendid plot and storyline but they fall flat if they are not carried off by your characters. To me much of the pleasure of writing a novel comes from creating and developing characters. They are at first vague ideas in your mind. Man or woman, young or old, they assume shape in your mind as you think more about the story. It’s amazing how attached you get to your characters. By the time you are through with your novel it feels as if you know them personally. You know every intimate detail about them. And it’s natural to do so, because you were the one who created them.
In my experience, you create characters roughly based on people you know, have seen, read about, or imagined. For example, Col. Belliappa in my debut novel, “It Can’t Be You” was the amalgam of several people I knew personally. Major Mohini Nair, the heroine of my second novel, “Lucky For Some, 13” was not based on anyone I knew but was totally a figment of my imagination.
There are many ways of developing a character. For example, you could use a format which lays down every detail of the character ranging from her personal and physical characteristics to her mental make up. This method is useful though I must confess I haven’t it to a great extent myself. You could also portray a character based on someone you have read about but not actually known.
As a writer you of course know there are different types of characters in a novel, such as the protagonist and the antagonist, there are flat characters and round characters, dynamic characters and static characters. Ginny Wiehardt in Fiction Writing in About.com. has this educative post.
Harvey Chapman has some interesting and useful articles on developing characters for your novel in his website Novel Writing Help.
As you can see, what we learn from others can at best give you ideas and tips. At the end, you need to sit down and create those characters yourself. The character can raise the level of your story or allow it to plummet. It’s worth spending time thinking about characters development more seriously when you set out to write that novel. You will have to paint a candid picture of the person, warts and all.
One of my readers told me, “I felt I knew the character personally by the time I finished with your book.” This pleased me no end. I was delighted that I had made that character live and breathe like a real person would.