Character Development

Screenshot character graphic

By Michelle Lynn Senters-

Character can be a person or persons in your story. It can also be the characteristics that make up who that person is. As a writer, it is important to look at how you develop your character.

A character can be someone that the reader follows through the story. What would the Harry Potter series be without Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson series be without Percy Jackson, Harriet the Spy without Harriet? As readers, we follow the story through the character’s actions, their mistakes, and their victories.
As a writer, you want to create a character that will be interesting enough that the reader will want to find out what the character does next. The character doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, characters that fail make the story more interesting. The reader wants to root for the main character.

Questions for You to Consider About Character

What does the character look like?

  • You can use magazines, catalogs, or an internet search (with parent permission) to get an idea of features you have in mind. Some writers even like to keep pictures of characters in a journal or on a bulletin board.

What does the character want?

  • In a story, the reader is not going to follow the writer through a story unless she knows what the main character wants. Does the character want to make a new friend, solve a mystery, make the leading role in a play, or something else? The character will need to actively pursue that “want” and face many obstacles along the way. This is getting into plot, but it definitely affects character as we need to know what is the character doing in this book.

How do you let the reader know about the character?

  • You could give the reader lots of descriptive detail, but sometimes that’s boring. The best way to help the reader get to know your character is to show them in action—doing and speaking. In each situation, we learn more information about the character without being told directly.

Writing Exercises

Study Ways Authors Reveal Character

  • Pick up your favorite book. Read the first 2-3 pages. Write down everything you know about the main character from those first few pages. How does the author reveal that to you? Description? Action? Dialogue?

Brainstorm Ideas for Your Own Character

  • If you really want to get to know your character (a really good idea if you are writing a novel), then you could fill out a character questionnaire. Here’s an example. Some writers find these really helpful, others don’t.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins headshot


Marcie Flinchum Atkins writes in the wee hours of the morning (5:00 AM) and then goes off to school to teach fourth graders all day. Marcie writes picture books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, short stories, and poetry. Learn more about Marcie HERE and You can visit her YouTube channel and at www.marcieatkins.com.

IMPORTANT: Students, NEVER reveal personal information while commenting. NO last names or contact information. I will delete any comments that contain personal information or comments that are inappropriate or off-topic.

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