Posts Tagged ‘Character development’

How to develop a novel character by answering 17 easy questions.

In Its resource Monday!, On writing on May 5, 2014 at 8:00 am



The power behind any novel is not just if it has an awesome plot.  But if it has characters that move the reader.  Character development is something that is learned.  It’s something that you can get better at.  But it starts with having a great template to work from.  Here is the template that I use in developing my characters.  I don’t profess that any of this is original.  Just that its pieced together from others who I’ve come to respect.  I figure perhaps this might work for other aspiring writers as well.

Now here’s the thing.  When you start a character you might not know all this.  If you are a pantzer who writes by the seat of their pants.  Then you might find these questions get answered organically as you write.  But whatever you do answer the questions at some point.

Answer these 17 questions and you will be on your way to have a great character for your work!


  1. What is the character’s name?
  2. A one-sentence summary of the character’s story line?
  3. The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  4. The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  5. What event launches the characters toward their first dilemma?
  6. The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  7. What event strips the character of hope?
  8. What even pushes the characters to change?
  9. The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?)
  10. What even shows the characters as their changed selves?
  11. A one-paragraph summary of the character’s story line?
  12. What is their role in story?
  13. What is their occupation?
  14. What is there physical description?
  15. What is their personality?
  16. What are their Habits/Mannerisms?
  17. What is their Background?


Donovan M. Neal

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Is it “epic” enough?

In On writing on October 27, 2012 at 6:51 am

It’s taken me seven years to write my first novel.  I’m still in the process of revision, working to make the characters deeper than they already are and attempt to remove any flatness they might have.

When I wrote scenes in my book I often asked myself this question.  “Is it epic enough?”   In other words was the action such that when I finished reading it, I had captured the sense of excitement and vision that I saw in my mind’s eye?   When my novel is translated into film, will there be enough of a description for the producer and director to translate my work to the silver screen?

“Is it epic enough?”

I once saw a motion picture that I was really excited to see.  When I left the movies I was disappointed.  Not because it wasn’t that great of a movie but it left me wanting because I realized.  It wasn’t “epic” enough.

Now that I’m essentially done with my story and I am deep into developing my characters even more, I find that I’m asking a new question as it relates to them.  “Are they emotional enough?”  In other words will you care about them?  Do they make you laugh?  Cry, want to wring their necks?  Because if they don’t.  Then I haven’t done my job yet.

I’m actually finding this is more of my weakness as a writer, at least as it relates to this story.  But I’m working on it: so that when you read my stories.  You will come away satisfied and moved in some fashion a character.

Is your story epic enough?  And are your characters emotional enough?

Think about it.