Character creation and development are probably among the most important basic tools for any fiction writer. When I create people I wonder how to make them real in all aspects. It is difficult to create good characters based on stereotypes or with second hand knowledge. What I mean is that it helps to get to know others and what they deal with. Get as close to first-hand knowledge as you can get.
In order to do that, you have to have good relationships.
Taking the time in your life to participate in deep relationships with other people cannot be underestimated in your ability to later create and develop believable characters. If all of your relationships only amount to acquaintances your writing will probably suffer. There are so many surface friendships these days that rob us of the benefit of good writing. It is difficult to get to know closed people. But it is worth it to try. You may find great inspiration that way. And more importantly; you may find incredible friendships.
There are some amazing writers who have deep relationships in their lives. You can tell who they are. They write about it. They are in touch with it. They seem to write dialog from our own lives. They can draw us right into the story and make us part of it because the characters are like someone we know. The theme and the plot may even become just a backdrop to the real story.
The real story should always be the relationships of the characters.
The way you connect with readers is to draw them into the conversation. Help them to see themselves bantering with your characters and developing right along with them. Then your readers will be invested in what happens because it will feel it is happening to them. That makes it an enjoyable read. Even an ‘action’ book should be filled with an action that leads to character development and back to the action again.
One of my pet peeves is when authors or people in general assign trite labels to others. If an author stereotypes their characters they will fall flat. If you label people you know before you have spent much time with them, that relationship will be non-existent. That may be alright if you intend to make them a secondary character in your story or your life, but remember they are people. They are real on some level. You just didn’t have the opportunity or make the time to find out more.
Many of us play psychiatrist.
It’s a fun hobby we have. We hear clinical terms and read a blurb about them and then we think we are somehow qualified to offer a diagnosis. Don’t diagnose people without a degree and without spending a lot of time with someone. Sometimes we love to speak without our better brain engaged.
Develop all your relationships and all your characters like you care. Even if you aren’t an author, you should consider how you want the story of your life to go. Do you want to race through it with little to no development? Or would you rather it be a good epic filled with deep relationships and great dialogue? How would the story of your life read? Who are the characters in it and how much do you know about them? Develop those relationships. Take time to enjoy your stories.
Take time to enrich your life.
If you are a writer, take inspiration from the relationships in your life. Of course, you need to take parts of your story and plant a seed. Let the ideas grow from it. Develop new and interesting people for your book. Then have conversations with them. Take them out to lunch in your mind and find out who they are. Let them come to life before you even write much about them. Get their view on things. Let them speak their mind. Then let them talk to your other characters and finally to your readers. After all, your characters have a mind of their own. Now you can begin a story.