Developing Your Character

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #006.

Does he enjoy getting older, or does he dread it?

Some characters welcome the passage of time with open arms, as it comes with newfound freedom and abilities. Others dread old age. In The Bucket List, Edward Cole writes a list of activities that he wants to participate in before he dies, and soon engages in a race against the clock to check them all off before his lung cancer takes him. In Interview with a Vampire, Claudia hates the fact that she’s stuck in the eternal form of a young girl, wishing instead that she could mature and become a grown woman.

Where does he live?

The location where your character lives can have a large role to play in the plot of your story. In Spider-Man, Peter Parker lives in New York City, which puts him in close proximity to Oscorp Laboratories, where he is bitten by a radioactive spider and receives his superpowers. His presence among skyscrapers also facilitates his capacity to travel by swinging from building to building, an ability that would be useless in a rural farming community. In The Village, the village that the main characters live in is an essential aspect of the plot, and the truths behind its existence are major reveals both to the main character and to the audience.

Does he own, rent, squat, or live with someone else?

The question of whether a character owns, rents, or stays on another individual’s property, with or without permission, can reveal a great deal about both his social status and aspects of his personality. In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne lives in a mansion, which demonstrates both his
extreme wealth and privileged position among the Gotham City elite. In Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker lives in a cheap, run-down apartment which he can barely manage to afford as it is.

Does his location affect the way he sees himself? If so, why?

The location where a character lives can have a deep effect on the character’s opinion of himself, for better or worse. In Arrow, Malcolm Merlyn is a wealthy businessman living in a rich neighborhood
in Starling City, which makes him feel superior to those who live in the city’s slums, called the Glades. In The Lord of the Rings, the citizens of Gondor feel great pride over the fact that they lived directly in front of Mordor, and were personally responsible for keeping Sauron’s forces at bay.

The Writer’s Everything

This article, as well as many others, have been featured in previous issues of my writing journal, The Writer’s Everything, in which I, along with occasional guest contributors, provide essays, guides, encouragement, motivation, writing prompts, character bio development kits, and anything else that can help you turn your dream of becoming a writer into a reality.

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