How to Develop a Character Through Your Prose

While dialogue, appearance, history, hobbies, personality, and faults all help develop a character, one way to really cement him or her is when you write his or her POV. When you’re editing your story, make sure your character’s voice match and always relate to the things listed above.

For example, when you have a character with a very scientific mind, s/he will describe a hillside differently than someone who draws. The scientific mind might observe the hill and try deducing its purpose or how it was formed. An artist could mention the color and shape of it and how the hillside fits or doesn’t fit into the landscape. In doing this, you help solidify that the character actually enjoys science or drawing and make them seem less like a collection of facts but a real person.

What people like, their history, personality, and such influences and changes how they view the world. A yeomen and a noblemen would not consider the same things important and would have different knowledge and experiences. For a cliche example, a noblemen might compare juggling a lot of responsibility like a game or a chessboard (if s/he usually plays political games, anyways), where as a yeomen might decide that s/he will handle each problem one at a time, focusing on the ones that consider his/her direct safety or survival first. A nobleman might compare a particularly tough problem to a difficult subject s/he had in school. The yeomen might compare it to a plant that never seems to grow or the roof that always leaks no matter what s/he does. What character compare his/her situation too can also help develop him/her as a character.

One author who does a good job at this—which says Brandon Sanderson in his YouTube lectures—is Robert Jordan. So if you want a good example of this, read The Wheel of Time series.

All this being said, I don’t advise you try to write this way during a rough draft or you might end up just starting at page and getting yourself frustrated, especially if you don’t share the character’s history, hobbies, and so on. Editing this sort of description in after is the better choice; then you have the ability to research how a blacksmith or doctor might view the world.

As always, if you have any questions, let me know. I’m happy to help.

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