How to develope characters for a novel
Author: Johnny Ray
A DISCUSSION OF
BEING OUT OF CHARACTER
PLACING A CHARACTER IN EXTRAORDINARY SITUATIONS
I think all writers know how important it is to have characters come alive and become as real as possible on the printed page. But readers can tell in a second when a character is not authentic and does something out of character. This often happens when the writer has an opinion of the character and has not prepared the reader properly. Many times it comes from trying to make the story more interesting for the reader.
You have to know your character when you write. This includes knowing what they would and would not do, or what they are capable of doing. For example, you would not expect a New Yorker who has never been out of the city to suddenly be a bull rider in Texas. This is totally different from the New Yorker who suddenly inherits a ranch in Texas and has to go there to see what he/she now owns. Taking characters out of their comfort zone is what makes a story interesting, but leaving them in their own personality and as who they are builds credibility.
When a writer builds character sketches or outline of characters, it is important to know what they would do in a situation. It is nice to know something the character would never in their lifetime expect to do. The fun part for a writer is to place that same character in a situation where they have to do the unthinkable.
Another part of building a great story is giving the reader small tidbits of who the character is early. If the character is to suddenly run a marathon for example, then the reader needs to see that the character loves to run earlier in the novel and not have it given as a surprise at the end of the book. Another example is where she is capable of defending herself because of her martial art training, but nothing was said about that for the last three hundred pages, and especially if she is being abducted and had been acting like a weakling for most of them.
Many times in a novel, the characters evolve, but it is up to the writer to make changes to the story to make it realistic and interesting for the reader.
Award Winning Novelist