How Do You Develop Your Characters?

My characters come to me in a flash, like my heroine, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer (Book 1), acting out her tales of heroism, by reciting her tale while tumbling and jabbing with an imaginary sword in the tavern.

Even though I didn’t use that scene in my novel, her physicality, her enthusiasm and high energy and passion sparked me. She came to me as an act of nature, almost.

But then I had to develop her into a full-blown, well-rounded and likable character.

I used tools like: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Deb Dixon.

And asked questions inspired by Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

What is in Henrietta’s pockets/bag/belt/boot?
It’s fun when you discover that your characters carries knives in her boot and belt. Says something about her, doesn’t it?

I wrote a personal history, from birth to the start of the story; okay, I sketched it, in broad sweeps, just enough to know who her parents and siblings were and the core emotion she had toward each of her family members.

I interviewed her and the people who surrounded her. Journaling, yeah!

And I wrote scenes to see what my subconscious had to say about her. Yep, I threw a lot of them out, but at least I knew how absolutely rambunctious she was!

I also used lots of the tools listed in these sites:

What tools do you use to develop your characters?

Comment below. I’d love to hear.



BETH BARANY, coach and novelistAn award-winning novelist, Beth Barany writes science fiction and fantasy for young adults and adults. Her first novel Henrietta The Dragon Slayer won Grand Prize in a California Indie Author contest.

Based in Oakland, California, with her husband, Ezra Barany, also a novelist, Beth has lived abroad three times — Quebec and twice in Paris, France — and speaks fluent French.

Known for creating rich world, tough and kick-ass heroines, and refreshing romances, Beth creates cinematic stories to empower readers to be the heroes of their own lives.

When she’s not penning rip roaring reads, Beth runs an online school for fiction writers, speaks at conferences and international cultural centers, most recently in Saudi Arabia, and enjoys her many dragon figurines sprinkled throughout her house.

For freebies, excerpts, and more about her books, go to Beth’s site:

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  • Alica says:

    I use a character worksheet- it’s eight pages long and asks all sorts of questions like what their favorite food is, and do they get along with their mother. It’s one I was told about online but I’m thinking of tweaking it to fit me better.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Alica, Sounds like a great tool! Eight pages long! Wow! Fun!

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