Developing Your Character

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #007.

Does his location affect the way others see him? If so, why?

Deep prejudices can develop based on where a person or group may live. Characters may begin to feel, and influence others into feeling, that a person’s location is representative of his social standing, his intelligence, or his capacity to succeed in a given venture. In Snowpiercer, an extreme class division develops between the various train cars and the individuals living within them. In Total Recall (2012), The United Federation of Britain looks down on the citizens of the Colony, considering them to be inferior, and using them as little more than slave labor for their own ventures.

How big is his home?

Generally, the better off a character is financially, the larger his home will be, although that convention might be bucked in the case of a rich character who takes a voluntary vow of poverty, who uses his riches for something other than gaining greater possessions, or who takes a journey of self-discovery. In Batman, Bruce Wayne invites Vicki Vale to his mansion for dinner, and then jokes about the fact that the building is so large that he’s never actually been in the room they’re eating in before.

Does anyone else live with him?

Characters can live with their parents, their parents can live with them, or they can live with other family members, friends, roommates, or significant others. In Friends, Ross attempts to move in with Joey and Chandler, but ends up irritating them to the point that they attempt to covertly convince him to leave. In The Flash, Iris and Barry Allen’s future daughter moves into their apartment with the goal of getting to know her parents on a much more personal level.

What is the condition of the outside of his home?

The outside of a character’s home affects the opinions of everyone who passes by it. On the one hand, it can induce awe, admiration, and envy. On the other hand, it can foster disgust, fear, and even hatred. In Monster House, Horace Nebbercracker’s house is old, dark, and decrepit. Its condition betrays the insidious nature of its history. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins employs Samwise Gamgee as his gardener and groundskeeper. Samwise always makes sure that things are kept neat and tidy.

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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