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The Importance of Character Development in Fiction

Plot and characters go hand in hand. Apart from a captivating and entertaining plot, character development is paramount to a good story.

There are three main types of characters in fiction. These include the protagonist (main character), the antagonist (person who interferes of hinders the protagonist), and secondary or side characters (supporting characters).

As the creator of a character, the author must fully understand what drives that character. The author must have a strong sense of who the character is a person. A character needs to have a back story. The reader needs to understand what brought them to where they are now.

Ensure the character has their own unique voice throughout the story. If they hail from a certain part of the globe, show the reader, by describing an accent or have the character use a lot of slang native to that country.

The author must know what is important to them, what scares them, and what motivates them. If these aspects are well developed, it will help the reader understand the significance of the events and how they impact the character.

Like all of us, the characters we discover in the books we read have jobs, families, hobbies, relationships, pets, and friends. All of these things influence us as human beings, and the character is no different. It is vital to the story that the author has a good grasp of all aspects of the character's personality and outside influences, in order to understand how they would react in a certain situation.

The main character must have a clear goal and something must be at stake if they fail. There is something they want to achieve. It doesn’t have to be a desire to save all of human kind. Perhaps it’s securing a new job opportunity, rekindling an old flame, or saving their business from collapsing.

The reader needs to be able to relate to what the character is feeling. The author must help the reader imagine what it might feel like to experience what is happening to the character.

The character must have flaws. We all have flaws. No reader will relate to someone who seems perfect. Not all characters need to be likeable, but they must be interesting.

The author must give the reader visual details. Things such as where they live, their hair colour, the car they drive, or their fashion sense. This helps the reader connect with the character on a more personal level.

The author needs to make the reader care about the main character and what it is they are trying to achieve. Show the character's opinions, emotions, and personality. One way to achieve this is through internal dialogue. Show the reader what is going through the characters head at the time.

If an author considers all these things, they will create a believable character that the reader can connect with, and in turn have an engaged and captivated audience.

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