Character development refers to the process of making a character seem more real and lifelike.

In order to make a character appear three-dimensional, writers need to know everything that makes their character tick.

Totally true, but how can you do this? Character development is one of the most important parts of any type of writing.

character development

What Is character development?

Character development is a literary technique that allows the reader to connect with the characters in a story.

If a character is fully developed, the reader can know him or her as if the character were a real person.

This is done through various means, including showing how the character talks, acts and thinks.

Character development is showing who your characters are by revealing their personalities, backgrounds, desires, flaws, and motives.

It’s a vital part of storytelling, because (aside from minor characters) your readers should be able to distinguish between each character. If the reader can’t do that, then it’s easy to become lost or confused during a story.



What Is Character Development?

Basically, character development is a literary technique that engages the reader to connect with the characters in a story. It is essential in fiction, drama, and non-fiction works as well. 

What Is A Character-Driven Novel?

What is a character-driven film? A character-driven film, also known as a character study, is an independent film or large-budget studio feature that focuses on the psychological development of a character (or characters) and the inner conflicts that are created by their environment.

Character-driven films can be dramas or comedies, but they all follow the same basic premise of creating interesting and complex characters in an interesting and complex environment.

Character-driven films include dramas such as Shane Carruth’s Primer (2004), Spike Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich” (1999), Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant” (2003), David O. Russell’s “Three Kings (1999), and Lars von Trier’s “Manderlay” (2005).

Character-driven films also include comedies such as Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Raising Arizona” (1987) and Larry Charles’ “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (2006). Character-driven films typically focus on one primary character who is placed in a situation where they must struggle with themselves or others to overcome their internal struggles.

What Is A Well-Developed Character?

A well-developed character (or characters) has a unique personality and distinctive traits. They are someone who stands out from all the others in the story.

They are also someone whom the reader can relate to, or at least someone that they find interesting. A well-developed character is someone who the reader cares about, wants to read about, and will remember for a long time after finishing your book.

They’ll want to know what happens to them. Trying to develop characters can be one of the most challenging aspects of writing a novel.

You want them to be real people, but you also want them to fit into your storyline without ruining it by showing too much of themselves. To do this, here is a tip for developing your characters: Give Them Distinctive Traits.

Everyone has their special traits which make them different from everyone else. They may not be super heroic traits, but they should be traits that make your reader remember them as individual characters.

This can include mannerisms, speech patterns, hobbies and interests, and even flaws. Make sure you give each of your characters at least one thing that makes them stand out from any other character in your book.

Character Development: Write Stronger Characters

When I’m reading a novel or watching a movie, the characters aren’t just moving around the page or screen; they’re living and breathing inside my head. They’re not just names and descriptions to me–they are people I know.

And I’ll bet you, as a writer, that you want your readers to feel that way about your characters, too. To help other writers with their works, here are some tips for developing stronger characters.

Give your main character its own identity.

The first step in developing a character is understanding who s/he is. Do you have the main character? If so, then you have a person in mind who has his or her unique personality and voice.

This person has goals, thoughts, and emotions that are all his/her own. By learning more about them, you’ll be able to write in your protagonist’s voice much more accurately than if you were just guessing at what they’re like on the inside.

Knowing your character could be possible by following the next point:

Ask what your character wants and why s/he wants it.

Imagine talking to your character and getting to know him/her. Get interested yourself and ask him/her what his tastes and preferences are, who his friends and family are, and what his strengths and weaknesses are. You can think of this as creating the “character package” for your character.

Give your character many opportunities to show what he’s made of—to live (and not just “tell”) his story. Make sure that your character has some obstacles to overcome in his journey—otherwise, why should anyone care about him/her? Why should s/he have to struggle?

If a character is going to deceive someone else to get what he wants, have him/her deceive someone else to get what he wants. Make him/her pay for his deception, even if it costs him/her more than he gained from it.

Make your main character believable. 

A good story needs a believable main character. If your reader doesn’t believe in your lead, then it wouldn’t be an effective character throughout your story.

Character development in literature and film is accomplished in several ways. Just as you get to know your character, you also have to be familiar with what your s/he has been through, who s/he was before the story began, and where s/he is going.

By establishing a context for your character’s experiences, you will be able to have greater insight into his/her behavior throughout the story.

In addition to understanding your character’s background, you need to be aware of how s/he speaks, reacts, and interacts with others – essentially, all of their personality traits.

This interaction between your character and other characters — friends or enemies — reveals how complex the main character truly is. These also allow you to understand motivations and other important elements of your character’s personality.

Finally, you must consider your character’s goals, both at the story’s beginning and at pivotal points along the way. A goal can either be an immediate issue – such as trying to get food for his family – or something longer term like building a new community after an apocalypse.

What Is A Character Arc?

A character arc is a change that a character undergoes throughout a story. It is the difference between who the character was at the beginning of the story and who they are at the end.

An effective character arc helps readers connect with and understand characters because it allows them to see where they came from and how they got to where they are. A character arc can be made up of smaller arcs, known as turning points.


These are moments in a story when a character makes a conscious decision about their life—often, these decisions lead to change, which is why they are so important.

Character arcs are not always positive; in fact, some stories center on characters becoming darker or more negative as their story progresses.

The hero who begins saving the world might become jaded or grow sadistic. A man who once gave freely might become materialistic and greedy. A woman who trusted everyone might suddenly become suspicious and paranoid.

But even these types of changes can be interesting if written well. Character arcs are complex but important to any type of story.

Some of the most well-known arcs include Luke Skywalker’s journey from farm boy to Jedi Knight in “Star Wars”, and Alice’s journey through Wonderland in “Alice in Wonderland”.

How To Create A Character Arc

Character arcs are essential to most good stories. They might learn something, they might grow emotionally, or they might do things they never thought they would. Telling a story with this technique is essential because it’s how we connect with the characters.

A character we don’t care about doesn’t need an arc. If you’re telling a story about someone that nobody cares about, nobody is going to read it anyway.

Many times when people start writing stories, they will focus on the plot first and the characters second. This can lead to flat characters that don’t do much or change throughout the story.

The easiest way to come up with a good character arc is to think of stages that your character goes through emotionally in the course of the story. These are called “Acts”.

You can have three acts, four acts, five acts, six acts, or any number of acts you want. Usually, 3-4 act stories work well, though.

What’s A Flat Character?

A flat character is a shallow, undeveloped fictional character created to interact with other characters and further the plot of a story. A flat character has little to no backstory, a mind of their own, or motivations outside of serving the needs of the plot.

In layman’s terms, they serve only as set dressing.

For example, in Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”, Mercutio is a classic flat character. He appears in Act I, Scene IV as an impish friend to Romeo and is killed off by Tybalt in Act III, Scene I after he flirts with Tybalt’s girlfriend.

Mercutio has no real purpose other than to be used as a foil for Romeo. He doesn’t have any real motives beyond being Romeo’s friend, and he dies before he gets a chance to develop into a more complex character.

Flat characters can be well-written without making them any less flat. Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” and Mrs. Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice” are other good examples of using flat characters well.

None of the characters develop; they serve only as foils for each other or to make fun of society at large.

How Do I Avoid Static Characters

When Writing A Screenplay? Screenwriting is one of the most popular ways to start a career as a movie writer. If you are serious about becoming a screenwriter, then you need to know how to avoid static characters. 

Telling a story through a script is different from telling it through a novel or short story. For your story to be effective, and for you to be successful in the long run, you must learn how to create dynamic and lively characters that work together on screen.

You have to write them so that they move through the story. Here is a tip on how you can avoid composing static characters: Give Them Clear Objectives.

A character needs to be given clear objectives for him/her to move forward. This should be done at the beginning of writing a screenplay so that we know what our protagonist will attempt to achieve throughout the rest of the story. 

These objectives should also be specific and measurable for us to see whether or not they are met by the end of the story.

For example, if our character’s objective is simply “to get into heaven” then this isn’t clearly defined enough and we won’t know if it was achieved at the end of the film.


Character Development Questions To Ask When Writing A Screenplay

We’ve been forced to consider questions about our characters’ appearance, their background, and the kind of people they are. But there are still many more questions we should be asking ourselves when we’re writing a screenplay.

A few more basic character development questions which you should consider:

  • How do they speak?
  • Do they speak quickly or slowly?
  • Do they have an accent?
  • How do they express themselves?
  • Are they eloquent or plain-spoken?

These are all questions that might seem obvious, but how often do we ask them of our characters as we write them? If you want your screenplay to be believable, your characters need to feel real. And that means asking questions about how your characters think and act.

By giving them unique qualities and characteristics, you’ll make your screenplay much more engaging. The best way to do this is by asking yourself those character development questions listed above.

Ask yourself these questions as you write so that every one of your characters feels like a real person. This will make your screenplays more engaging and entertaining for readers because it will give them characters that they can relate to. 

The more relatable your characters are, the more likely someone looking at your screenplay is going to want to read it!

This is a guest post by bestselling author Chris Fox.