Character Development

Develop Compelling Characters

As you read reviews of best-selling books on Amazon, look for the many references to story characters. The bulk of favorable reviews describe how those characters made readers feel.

Table of Contents:

Characters Influence Story

A story’s heartbeat emanates from characters, their evolving lives capture readers’ attention and shape the story’s trajectory:

  • Roles contribute to the storyline.
  • Careers often sway those roles.
  • Desires guide thoughts, choices, and actions.
  • Protagonist’s resistance to change hinders problem solving.
  • Unsolved problems create conflict and build tension. 
  • Individual and group connections affect story direction.
  • Traits and behaviors influence reactions to plot events.
  • Distinctive character voices engage readers.
  • Dialogue effects the story’s pace.

There are a variety of techniques used to develop characters. Scrivener gives you the capability to document and reference your preferred method of creating character profiles.

Story Character Blueprint

For example, you can use the Enneagram of Personality to profile a character’s emotions and behaviors based on whether the individual feels secure or stressed. Each of the nine types has an optional “wing” component that can change a person’s profile, giving writers many variations of characters with realistic traits.

Story Character Blueprint
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Enneagram Levels of Development

Within Scrivener, you can store these descriptions and charts showing the progression of Enneagram behaviors based on how an event influences the characters.

Enneagram Levels of Development
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Imagine keeping your Enneagram documentation and character profiles in one application. Scrivener simplifies constructing, maintaining, and referencing your characters.

Get Your Free Character Template

The creation of character profiles is essential to maintaining consistency within a novel and across a series.

Scrivener stores cast-member profiles in the Characters folder, but for a series, keeping all past, current, and future characters in the present draft can become cumbersome.

To solve this issue:

  • Work in Progress: Keep the profiles within the Characters folder, and enter Custom Metadata for each scene to show who appeared onstage (+) or referenced offstage (-).
  • Series: Maintain a master inventory in a separate Scrivener file, and use Custom Metadata to show characters’ roles and the books in which they appear.

Create dialogue and inner thoughts to match the character profile:

  • Fit each character’s voice to the genre conventions, tropes, and styles.
  • Align voices with each character’s profile, quirks, and unique speech pattern.
  • Use voices to reveal relationship dynamics that increase conflict and tension.
  • Show emotions through action beats and body language.
  • Paces the scene with a mixture of dialogue and narrative?

Read this blog post to see how you can put the free Character Template to use in Scrivener 3.