Posts belonging to Category Character development

Avoiding Gimmick Takeover

Some characters have roles that encompass most of their personality. Some have traits that are supposed to set them apart from other characters. Still others can be traced pretty easily to a standard character archetype, and then there are those who sling their catch phrases whenever possible. These are all character gimmicks, and they all [...]

The Issue-Powered Character

I had a friend once who had trouble with long-term characters. Give him the same character for too long, he’d run out of things to do—sure, the mechanics might still be fun, but the personality would go static and he’d start casting about for a new concept. When another of my friends started having the [...]

Emotional Vocabulary

As elements of characterization go, emotions have got to be one of the most show-don’t-tell elements of characterization out there. People tend to look at you funny if you just say that such and such a character is angry, or sad, or what have you, and leave it at that. (This gave me headaches when [...]

The Importance of Emotion

Some people write their scenes from big epic images, some from the demands of the plot. But some base what happens on what the characters are currently feeling, whether they actually show the feelings or not. I find emotion to be an important part of any story, cementing the characters’ role as people and not [...]


Hoyt keeps a blue crystal ruined by the attempts at carving it in the lining of his coat, and woe betide the person who finds it and tries to take it away. Manar carries a little yarn doll, barely as long as her finger, on a string about her neck. One person might tuck a [...]

Cues for the Character Arc

Character arcs don’t just happen out of nowhere, and for good reason. Having somebody just wake up one morning and say “I’m going to change some aspect of my personality!” would be a bit odd, wouldn’t it? You’d expect a cause, even something as improbable as a dream about antelopes, breakfast materials and blackmail, wouldn’t [...]

The Reverse Arc

Most people seem to see change in characters as a permanent matter—that once a change is made, it stays made, and the character carries on in that new path. It’s understandable to do that at least a little, particularly since the more action-oriented audiences would probably get sick of it and want to move on. [...]

Three Character Arc Types

It doesn’t seem right if a character begins and ends the story as the exact same person, does it? But figuring out what kind of change they’re likely to go through is difficult in its own right, particularly for people whose strengths lie more in the range of events or settings. There are just so [...]

How to Show Character Change

One of the things I’ve always been fascinated by is character change. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I can spend hours just looking over the behavior of a character and seeing how it compares to when she was created. Making mistakes and coming to terms with them, dealing with old traumas, [...]

Characterization Experiment: Counterfactuals

Many characters are in some way products of their circumstances. Sometimes it was a long-running thing, being brought a certain way by their families or their culture, or adapting to an aspect of their surroundings. Other times it was one or more incidents—sometimes traumatic, sometimes not—that pushed them in [...]