Characters are some of the most important parts of any novel. Whether your book is more plot driven, or the focus is on the fantastic world you’ve created, everyone will notice if you have a ‘cardboard’ character. No amount of twists, turns, and suspense is going to fix that. Outlining, or ‘fleshing out’ a character can be tricky, especially when you’re not sure where to start, but it’s an important step in writing a novel.
Find Your Character Motivation
One of the most important things to know about your characters is why they are doing something. Why have they allowed themselves to be sucked into the action? Why are they trying to solve this murder? Why are they so resistant to love? Answering this will give you a key into their psyche, and your writing will seem much more natural.
Don’t Make Your Character Fit the Plot
This is something that many new writers don’t understand. Sometimes what makes an interesting character is the fact that they’re not the best person for the job. Create your character by exploring their personality, understanding how they would react to certain situations. Keep it consistent. At the same time, they must still be valuable to the plot and drive it forward.
Create a Character Profile
Yes, these can be tedious, and some of the questions inane. Yet there are many versions out there created specifically for certain genres, and they really can help. If you are struggling to get to know your characters, a questionnaire might just help.
Allow Them to Change
Events change people. No character should be exactly the same at the end of the novel as they were at the beginning. Character growth is a major part of any book. Yet there must be reasons behind this arc, and likely, the change will happen slowly. A character isn’t going to have a sudden shift from one chapter to the next, but they can learn, and this should be remembered.