Developing Characters That Resonate With Readers

Posted on June 21, 2018

by April S

So, you’re trying to write the next best-selling novel – where do you start? While each writer may follow different methods, every writer knows character development is essential to the success of their story. According to the experts, these are some of the questions writers should consider:

  • What personality types will you use and why?
  • Humans are complex beings. How can you use this to your advantage to make the characters in your novel more compelling?
  • How will you write effective character descriptions without getting bogged down with the details?
  • What is your main character’s backstory?

There are so many things to consider. After all, good character development is essential to pull readers in and keep them interested from start to finish.

Learn How to Develop Memorable Characters With the Help of …

Writing Books Available at Your Library

Writing the Intimate Character - Create Unique, Compelling Characters Through Mastery of Point of View by Jordan Rosenfeld

Writing the Intimate Character” by Jordan Rosenfeld

The key to excellent fiction lies in its characters: the unforgettable protagonists, antagonists, and secondary characters who populate the world of your story. Understanding and effectively using point of view allows you to write a powerful narrative that draws readers in and engages them with characters in a meaningful way. Through a blend of practical instruction, useful examples, and helpful exercises this book shows you how to create the experience of living through a character rather than just reading about one.

Also available in eBook.

The Art of Character” by David Corbett

Corbett provides an inventive, inspiring, and vastly entertaining blueprint to all the elements of characterization—from initial inspiration to realization—with special insights into the power of secrets and contradictions, the embodiment of roles, managing the “tyranny of motive,” and mastering crucial techniques required for memorable dialogue and unforgettable scenes. This is a how-to guide for both aspiring and accomplished writers that renders all other books of its kind obsolete.

The Art of character : creating memorable characters for fiction, film and TV by David Corbett
A Writer's guide to characterization : archetypes, heroic journeys, and other elements of dynamic character development / Victoria Lynn Schmidt

A Writer’s Guide to Characterization” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

In the best novels, characters undergo dramatic changes that keep readers turning pages. This comprehensive guide examines cross-cultural archetypes to illustrate how they can make your work more powerful and compelling. With the help of this book you’ll have the information you need to infuse the development of your characters with drama and authenticity.

Also available in eBook.

45 Master Characters” by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Want to make your characters and their stories more compelling, complex, and original than ever before? “45 Master Characters” is here to help you explore the most common male and female archetypes–the mythic, cross-cultural models from which all characters originate. Complete with examples culled from literature, television, and film, “45 Master Characters” illustrates just how memorable and effective these archetypes can be. Great heroes and villains are necessary to bring any story to life; let this guide help you create characters that stand the test of time.

Also available in eBook.

45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
Creating characters - the complete guide to populating your fiction from the editors of Writer's Digest

Creating Characters” from the Editors of Writer’s Digest

Populating your fiction with authentic, vivid characters is a surefire way to captivate your readers from the first sentence to the last. Whether you’re writing a series, novel, short story, or flash fiction, “Creating Characters” is an invaluable guide to bringing your fictional cast to life. This book gives you the tools necessary to create realistic, fascinating characters that your readers will root for and remember long after they’ve finished the story.

Also available in eBook.

The Negative Trait Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman and Becca Publisi

Crafting likable, interesting characters is a balancing act, and finding that perfect mix of strengths and weaknesses can be difficult. Through its flaw-centric exploration of character arc, motivation, emotional wounds, and basic needs, writers will learn which flaws make the most sense for their heroes, villains, and other members of the story’s cast. This brainstorming resource is perfect for creating deep, flawed characters that readers will relate to.

The Negative trait thesaurus : a writer's guide to character flaws / Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi
The Positive trait thesaurus : a writer's guide to character attributes / Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi

The Positive Trait Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

It’s a writer’s job to create compelling characters who can withstand life’s fallout without giving up. But building authentic, memorable heroes is no easy task. To forge realistic characters, we must hobble them with flaws that set them back while giving them positive attributes to help them achieve their goals. So how do writers choose the right blend of strengths for their characters–attributes that will render them admirable and worth rooting for–without making it too easy for them to succeed?
This book is brimming with ideas to help you develop one-of-a-kind, dynamic characters that readers will love.

Developing Your Characters” by Anne Perry

“Developing Your Characters,” like its predecessors, aims to give the viewer an all-important one-to-one learning experience which they can peruse at their leisure, stopping to take in what is being imparted, or to consider their own responses to questions posed, and there is homework in the way of exercises for those who are writing, to think about, such as what does each main character want? What do they need in their life that provides a motivating force for them through the story? These exercises have been compiled by Anne’s long-term literary agent Meg Davis.

Developing Your Characters (Part of the Put Your Heart on the Page series) by Anne Perry [eBook - hoopla]
Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

Characters and Viewpoint” by Orson Scott Card

This book is a set of tools: literary crowbars, chisels, mallets, pliers and tongs. Use them to pry, chip, yank and sift good characters out of the place where they live in your imagination. Award-winning author Orson Scott Card explains in depth the techniques of inventing, developing and presenting characters, plus handling viewpoint in novels and short stories. With specific examples, he spells out your narrative options—the choices you’ll make in creating fictional people so “real” that readers will feel they know them like members of their own families.

Also available in eBook.

Interesting Articles on Writing and Characterization

5 Tips For Creating Characters Readers Can’t Wait to Come Back To – The Creative Penn

Five Traps and Tips for Character Development – LiveRich Publishing

8 Ways to Write Better Characters – Writer’s Digest

10 Trips and Tricks for Creating Memorable Characters – Gizmodo

33 Ways to Write Stronger Characters – Well-Storied

How to Craft Compelling Characters – Writer’s Digest

How to Write Fiction: Andrew Miller on Creating Characters – The Guardian

Toledo Library Blog Posts on Writing

Writers on Writing: Tips for Aspiring Writers

5 Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills

Top 5 Reasons to Join a Writing Group

Memoir Writing Resources

The Art of Storytelling: 5 Tips on Crafting Compelling Storylines

How to Write a Novel in a Month

Learn How to Publish a Book

Writer’s Block


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