For me, every story idea starts with the characters and their biggest fears or misconceptions. Without these two (in my opinion), there’s no story to be had. The characters are why I care, and that fear/misconception is something that must be dealt with and got rid of.
This writer is here to solve the character’s problems.
That the writer created.
Because I’m a character-centric writer, I spend the majority of my time doing character development. Long before I start plotting against them. I mean- plotting. 🙂
A character can be placed anywhere.
Below, I have a list of some categories to explore about your characters. I don’t go totally in-depth for all of my side characters, but those close to my protagonist get a thorough background check before getting included in my plot. This list is not all inclusive, and the template that I created for myself does go into more detail, but this works as a baseline so that you can make your own.
Appearance: What does this character look like?
Height, build, complexion, hair, eyes, ethnicity, distinguishing features
(freckles, limp, birthmarks, etc.)
*Note: Not every character needs a distinguishing feature.
History: Where did this character come from?
Age, birthday, hometown, current residence, family, past significant events, schooling, emotional scars, past drama
Pleasure: What does this character enjoy?
Hobbies, friends, favorite colors, foods, books, activities, school subjects, jobs, pets, etc.
Displeasure: What does this character dislike?
Fears, pet peeves, allergies, conditions, animals, foods, jobs, chores, school subjects, etc.
Spiritual/Mental: What does this character know and what will they learn?
Religion, denomination, convictions, relationships, morals, goals, setbacks, limitations, perceived problems, perceived solutions
Accomplishments: What has this character accomplished?
Degrees, successes, failures, jobs, promotions, legacy, maturity, lessons learned, marital status
Again, this is a short list to get you started. The point is, a lot has to be discovered and molded about your characters. Without characters, the reader doesn’t care where the story goes, because if there are no characters, there is no plot. Characters make up more than 75% of your story. The rest consists of plot, problems, attempted solutions, solutions, and strings of words that tie them all together. If your characters are good, even if your prose isn’t, then the readers will want to stay with them for a long time.