Character Development

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

Table of Contents:

Character Development Influences Story

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

  • 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. In addition, Scrivener gives you the ability to document and reference your preferred method of creating character profiles.

Story Characters

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. In other words, Enneagram types inspire writers to create variations of characters with realistic traits.

Story Characters
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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. For instance, Scrivener’s powerful ability to record and store information 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. Therefore, to solve this issue:

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

Create dialogue and inner thoughts to match the character profile. For example:

  • Fit each character’s voice to the genre conventions, tropes, and styles.
  • Similarly, align voices with each character’s profile, quirks, and unique speech pattern.
  • In addition, use voices to reveal relationship dynamics that increase conflict and tension.
  • After than, show emotions through action beats and body language.
  • Also, you can 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.