Character Development for Writing Short Stories
- There are many ways to develop your characters for stories of any length. How do you like to do it?
If it is a lead character it should be one with integrity, one who is trustworthy, and one who behaves like we expect someone to with the characteristics we give them. Most main characters want something or have a major problem to solve so they should have a talent for solving problems or know people who do.
What did Don Quixote want? Fame? Romance? To be a hero? He set out to get what he wanted and that is his primary personality trait.
What did Harry Potter want? To survive? Harry didn’t have to set out to do so, he just had to have the trait. Some people collapse under that much pressure and others survive.
- I write a character into a story then develop the personality traits as that story flows.
If I reuse a character in other stories, I add to her ‘profile’ and often adjust or go deeper into her personality as it becomes clearer in my mind who she really is. But all personalities have primary traits.
I think it’s best to stick with just a few primary traits early in the introduction of the character. For Shelly I went with: Strong common sense, very helpful, and very tough without showing it. That was it, to begin with. I could write a story about her or with her in it with just with those traits and let the story go where it wants to. I can add traits as it makes sense to. This way I never have to rewrite a character because the character has matched or blended in with the story.
- Your character should change over time as one would develop normally.
In one story she may be younger and still dealing with parents and their many issues. In another she may be fully into adult hood and trying to raise her own children.
The way she deals with the same problems her parents had to becomes easier as you use the same character in each story. It is for me anyways.
I know how that character will react as I write the story because I know her.
- To Sum this up Character Creation Should be Fun and Natural
To create unforgettable characters start with a few primary traits and let your imagination guide the addition of more traits as the story unfolds. If you don’t write your stories like this then you may need a different method. You may need to outline the full personality to match a pre-planned story. I’ll cover that method in another article.There is more than can be learned about creating unforgettable characters and we will go into them all eventually. You can create them with just this little bit of information.
When you add the character into the story give them just a few primary traits and guide their involvement in the story based on those. Make sure the actions or behavior of that character match up with the traits you gave them.
Then let your wonderful imagination add to the character traits as your story unfolds.