How to Develop Fictional Characters
Developing good characters for fictional writing is essential for good story and lasting need for the reader to continue to spend time on a book or film. The character helps develop how a reader pictures the story and helps the reader to somehow relate to what is going on in the story. Fictional writing has the advantage of not limiting the character. Utilize this freedom and create the best fictional characters possible.
The added advantage for creating great characters is branding the characters. A great character has lasting value not only for the original story or film, but for many other endeavors. Take away the characters from Universal Studios or Disney World and what is left are somewhat boring amusement parks. Think of all the revenue streams that come from a great character such as toys, clothes, backpacks, folders, commercials and ads, spin-offs, sequels, etc. This list is practically endless.
Create a character with unique habits
Create unique habits of the character. Perhaps the habit is a saying they like to use such as Buzz Lightyear "to infinity and beyond" or Terminator, "I'll be back". Maybe the habits are memorable mannerisms such as Goofy's perpetual clumsiness or the way WALL-E adjusts his mechanical eyes. These habits provide non-verbal communication and help provide a character's unique identity.
Create a character who relates to the audience
Create a character who relates to the intended audience. Decide the targeted age group for the story. The dialog and actions of the character should match the targeted audience age group. Decide if you want the gender of the intended audience to be tilted to males or females. A character can be designed to have mass appeal with both male and female audiences in addition to young and old audiences, but it is much more difficult. There are some successes though like Mickey Mouse, Shrek, and Super Man.
Characters and the doorway
Great characters come from meager beginnings and go on to do great things. Think of using the doorway approach to development of the story and to provide background for the character. The doorway is where a character has a normal existence. Their life may actually be a bit boring, but when the doorway comes along the character has a choice. Stay in their normal boring existence or go through the doorway and they can never return to their normal life again. There would not be much of a story if the character does not go through the doorway. A great main character will find new strength and courage that they may not even knew they had once they choose to more forward through the doorway.
Characters that match the story
In thinking of story, maybe the plot is something grand, filled with action and adventure or perhaps the story is subdue with lots of dialog. Carefully consider the story and develop the characters to fit their role. If you are using bits of non-fiction to provide background and realism such as a time period or place, make sure the character would fit this place. The character does not need to be extraordinary upon first glace. It may take layers and moments to build how special the character will turn out to be. Make the character believable. One way to turn off a reader quickly is to set in motion a very unrealistic mesh of story and character.