How do you build a better character?
What does your character see?
- How does he perceive the world? With paranoia or rose-colored glasses?
- What does he need to survive?
- Look outside the character to how the setting affects him.
- Is it an urban setting? Rural? Alone?
- Think how the boy who lived under the stairs saw Hogwarts. When a character moves to a different environment, he will naturally compare it to what he has seen before.
- Look inside.
- Use introspection. Does the character have to plan everything?
- Are they confidant in themselves?
- What are their flaws? Exploit them!
What do they hear?
- Do they only hear complaints? Compliments?
- What does the character say when they talk to themselves when they are alone?
- What do they think about? Process?
- Do they believe they are good? Bad?
What do they say?
- Pet phrases
- Do they lie?
- Prefer silence?
- Dialogue reveals something about the character like education level, beliefs, prejudice.
- Words can hurt AND heal. For some, words are weapons.
- Voice is one of the best ways to showcase a character
What dreams or goals do they have?
- What are they reaching for?
- What is their hearts' desire?
- Evaluate 'nice to haves' and 'have to haves'.
- Dreams drive us! Withholding the fulfillment of dreams will force the character into action, into growth
- Be specific about dreams!
Where is the character going?
- What actions will they take?
- Motivation is a powerful tool for revealing character
Where does your character stand?
- What does he believe in? Fight for? Die for?
- Where is their boundary? Push them over that line over and over again
Characters with well-defined values--even if you don't agree with them--make compelling, interesting and memorable characters.
Characters with conviction are characters who move the plot.