How well do you know the characters of your book?
Do they come to life on paper as you write? Or, do you have an idea of who you’re creating before you sit down and write your first word?
Are your characters based on somebody you know? Even a loose rendering of that person? Maybe it’s somebody from your past, or somebody that you aspire to know. How do you create your character?
Your main characters are usually pretty easy to come up with. Sometimes they may even be loosed based on yourself. Yet the supporting & minor characters, the villains & opponents of your main character are a bit more difficult to create. Have no doubt, they are very important, a glue that holds your story together. These are the characters give your main character substance as they play off each other, giving each character their own importance.
A sub-character can give background for your main character. They can be your Watson to Sherlock, they can be your Ethel to Lucy; depending upon the type of character that you want. But it’s important to develop them and stick with that development.
Your villain or your character’s opponent should be interesting, not just a persona of evil. Anybody can write something about a mean person or a hateful person, but to truly find what makes somebody evil you had to know more about them. And your readers want to know more about them, what made them the character that they are?
A lot of writers use character development sheets. This is simply taking your characters and writing on a separate page, notebook, or flash card as much as you can about them. Include their physical appearance, their likes & dislikes, their habits and their history. Visualize scenarios and how they will react. What makes them tick – do they like green jellybeans and hate yellow jellybeans? Do they love cats and hate dogs? Are they a city person or a country person? These are all characteristics of your main characters that need to be consistent throughout your book. If you continue on into a series you need to take these basics and develop them; as your series grows, your character grows.
So, are your characters a complete figment of your imagination? Or maybe a reflection of somebody you know, or maybe even a bit of yourself? It’s important to put as much details about all of your characters into your manuscript, so that your readers get to know your characters, and love them or hate them the way that you do.