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Prologue

Have you ever wondered how the characters in Harry Potter are so developed, with such thorough, explained backgrounds? Have you ever wanted your characters to be like that?

Well, by reading this guide, you might not get them to be as professional as Harry Potter, but you might be able to get them quite developed and understandable by your readers.

I hope you enjoy and I hope this helps!


Chapter One - Backgrounds

The background of your character is perhaps the number one thing that helps them seem more developed.

So, depending on how far you in on your story, just write about the life of your character - in a blog, on your user page, or just in a Word or Word Processor document. Don't include any of the peculiar events that you're writing about on here, but if you start out writing about them as an apprentice - then write about them as a kit! Explain who their parents are, their siblings, their Clan, their description, just general things about them that we, the readers, might not know. Then delve deep into their character, and, in a different place, write about them some more. You don't have to write about the same things - write about their hobbies, their feelings, their relationships. In this second page, you can describe their personality.

Get writing!


Chapter Two - Get To Know Your Own Character Better

No one can know their character better than you, the author. Readers want to know more about the character in your stories, but you don't have to blare it all out in one story. If you're writing a series, you can subtly hint more about the characters in the series.

If you're writing a single story - you can do the same thing throughout the story. Gradually let the character break out of his or her hard shell.

To get to know your character better, all you have to do is make a list. Yes, make a list. Write fifty facts about your character. It's not as easy as it sounds. You can write simple things, like their name, their description, their personality, fears, hobbies, strong points. But everything you write has to make your character, and your story, ultimately better. It has to improve your story, it has to matter.

Some examples of good facts using my cat, Bob:

  • Bob is terrified of the vacuum and plastic bags
  • Bob will not eat unless he sees someone of greater importance eat before him
  • Bob eats when he's bored, upset, nervous, scared, angry, or sad, even if no one has eaten before him

All of those are true, and all of those could contribute to the story. Bob would not eat, so Twolegs came and frightened him into a cage by shaking a plastic bag behind him to get him to go to the vet. He was scared and upset, so he ate.

Terrible story, I know. :)

Some examples of bad facts, using Bob again:

  • Bob likes Cheetos
  • Bob ate tuna once
  • Bob has made dirt 6, 892 times in his life

You could attempt to make a story out of those, but it wouldn't have a plot, like the story above does. That's why your facts need to be noteworthy.


Chapter Three - Behavior

Showing, explaining, or introducing your character's behavior can contribute to their development.

If you don't know how your character would behave in a situation, your readers don't know. Your readers can spectulate (see Chapter Four), but it won't be concrete fact and then your character will have rumors flying about his or her head.

A behavior explanation can be as simple as a character thinking when another character gets put into a situation. For example,

Flower tripped, tumbling into the stream. Her swimming definitely wasn't as good as those wild cats'! Bob stared after his sister in dismay. If he had fallen into the stream, he certainly wouldn't have started swimming. All he would have done is floundered around and screeched for help.

That's what Bob would have done in a situation as such. An author could have stopped after the third sentence, and it would still be a great story. Not every situation that happens to another character has to be felt or empathized by your own character. It's just a tip.

Chapter Four - Don't Allow Spectulation

By the above statement, I mean, don't let everything about your character be guessed.

Unless, of course, that is the plot.

You don't want your readers guessing the name of your characters, what they would do in so-and-so's situation, what your character looks like...most of those are somewhat simple ideas, except for maybe the second. If you need help on that, just look at Chapter Three. :)

Some mysteriousness in your character greatly enhances the plot (see Red's Guide to a Good Plot, Chapter Seven), but don't let everything be spectulated.


Chapter Five - Nothing Too Likeable or Ideal

You don't want your characters to be too likeable. You don't want their behaviors to be too idealized or cliched, because then it might seem...well, cliche.

I'm not saying that likeable characters are bad, just don't repeat everything the Erins did.

I'll give you an example in my own story. In one of my Rainstar's Prophecies, I made her father...not really be her father. In my opinion, now, as a changed writer, I feel that this might have been a bit cliched. I even wrote a non-fanfiction where the kids were adopted and their parents were the antagonists.

You also don't want your characters to be Mary-Sue's or Gary-Stu's.

Epilogue

I've hope you enjoyed this short volume in my series, and if there's anything you think I should make another chapter on, go ahead and tell me in the comments. I'd appreciate all positive feedback and constructive criticism. :)

-Red

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