The difference between a well-developed character and one that is just two-dimensional or something everyone has already read about can be the difference between having a book readers enjoy and talk about and one that is put aside unfinished.
I have written several other posts on the importance of well-developed characters (Developing characters recap). This is an important aspect of writing or should I say writing well. Whether you are a planner who loves to spend time plotting and planning, or you like to dive right into your writing with nothing but a story idea, the one area you should take the time and consideration is on your characters.
What makes Jack the super spy the hard, grizzled man he is in your espionage thriller? What was his upbringing? What were his parents like? What training does he have?
Susie homemaker is an introvert who likes order and structure in your mystery series but what made her snoop into the lives of others? Where did she get her attention for detail? Why does she keep going into dangerous situations rather than calling for help?
All of these questions are things that you, the author, should know about your protagonist (as well as for your antagonist and any other major characters.)
The easiest way to know all these things is to fill out a character profile questionnaire. You can easily do a web search for one or check out the one here or here. (I always have problems with the ones I find online. Many of the information requested deals with someone from Earth present day. As a fantasy writer, college, car choices and whatnot do not apply.)
If these questionnaires don’t work for you, then as long as you know the information about your character’s back story and who they truly are, you will be fine. Just make sure that you balance between giving your character positive and negative attributes. You don’t want to go too far in either direction. Your hero needs flaws just as your villain needs a redeeming trait or characteristic (or two).
Over the next two weeks, I want to look a little more into positive and negative traits. I will write about how positive (or negative) traits may have formed as well as discuss how negative traits cause friction among characters. See you next week.