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For The Love of My Characters

Character Development

By Caroline-StoryGirlCAPublished 3 years ago 6 min read

I’m in the process of writing a young adult fantasy fiction book. When I think about the characters and what’s coming down the line for them, I’m giddy with excitement. The first eight chapters are with the editor at this very moment!

The process of writing a novel and creating different characters is not only thrilling but very personal to me. It’s as if I’m creating real people. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses as we all do.

When I develop my characters, I imagine myself inside their heads as I try to see their personal perspectives on the situation around them. I look into their hearts, I notice their fears or frustrations, their loves and losses.

For example, the character in my YA book, Kira, a 13 year-old happy little girl suddenly becomes an angry rebellious teenager. Why? What caused this sudden change within her heart and mind?

Or, Kendra, her mother. who is compelled to teach Kira important skills for maneuvering in their dangerous world. There is a reason for this, although Kira is not aware of it until Chapter Four. Why is Kendra so worried?

When developing a character I write an entire essay on each one. The primary characters and secondary characters. The objective is to get inside the characters head rather than right a stale description of their physique, their movements and actions. I want my readers to know the character behind the scenes. Who they are inside as people in this story.

I believe readers want to engage with the character. They want to get to know them and possibly relate their dilemma, or their triumphs in some way as they read the story.

Dialogue is another means of developing characters. How do they speak? Is the character shy and soft spoken? Or are they brash and aloof? The tone of the characters voice and the words they use provide another angle into the characters personality.

Regarding dialogue, the word usage and flow is extremely important because as writers, we want our dialogue between characters to flow naturally as if I were speaking with you in person.

Character development is an in-depth process which leads us into the heart of our story. The plot and scenes of the story are equally important but how we portray our characters is essential to an intimate reader relationship with them.

We cheer their successes. We urge them on in their most critical moments and we express our sadness at their defeats while secretly hoping, when we turn the next page, our character will overcome and rise again.

Here is an excerpt from my YA book, At The Edge Of The Forest. The scene takes place in 1,200 A.D. during a Viking attack on a village in the English countryside. This is the first confrontation between Kendra and our Antagonist, Gunnar.

Kendra felt as if her heart had been ripped apart. How could she leave Kira alone? Although she knew this day would come, she also knew it was the only way to keep her daughter safe. She raced down the hill to her house and quickly gathered her bow and arrows from the hook above the hearth mantle. She also grabbed a small dagger and put it inside the pocket of her tunic.

Once armed, she stepped outside and ran around to the back of the house, placing herself in the shadows of a slope just high enough to get a good shot at the Foreigners with her bow.

The scene was horrific. Armed horsemen were everywhere. They set fires to the villagers’ homes, women screamed as they tried in vain to protect their children. Kendra’s eyes searched wildly for signs of Owen, but she couldn’t find him.

Kendra, riddled with fear continued a constant barrage of arrows. She managed to bring down a few of the horseman but it was obvious the villagers were no match for this foreign army. They easily overpowered her people. Their swords and torches killed and burned everything in sight. Most of the women, children and a few of the younger men were shoved into the goat pens, obviously chosen as future slaves.

She crouched down in the shadows, quickly reasoning with herself. As one of the Elders on the Council of her village she felt it was her duty to try to bargain with the foreigners. She was scared but Kendra knew she was also very brave.

The Foreigners were big, broad-shouldered men. Their arms seemed the size of tree trunks. Their physical strength she would never want to challenge. Their frothing horses obeyed their every command, but what distinguished them most was their armor. They wore green tunics made from wool, a layer of chain mail on top of that and animal hair leggings laced up with leather straps, probably made from deer hide.

Regardless of how fierce they looked her people were in trouble. Slowly she made her way out of the shadows until she was standing directly in the center of the village. A horseman spotted her and charged her, his sword in hand, ready to strike her down until he heard a loud whistle. The horseman obediently reined in his horse. A voice called from within the darkness.

“Not that one. Put her in the pen with the others.”

The horseman disappointedly lowered his sword and quickly dismounted. He towered over Kendra, grabbing her roughly by the arm but Kendra managed to free herself from his grip.

“I want to speak with your commanding officer!” she demanded defiantly.

The horseman let out a vicious, sarcastic laugh.

“Do you think he wants to talk to the likes of you?” He pointed to the goat pens and sneered at her. “Get in there with the rest of your stinking kin!”

He looked her squarely in the eyes. That’s when she noticed a strange hollowness in his eyes. There was nothing there except hatred. Kendra felt her knees start to buckle but she stood her ground. The horse soldier became angry.

“I said move!”

At that moment another soldier approached them and stopped just in front of Kendra. Without acknowledging her, he said in the most dignified way.

“Eamon, tend to the horses. Find water for them to drink. We’ll be leaving shortly.”

Kendra noticed this new soldier was well dressed. Not at all like the others who were dirty and filthy. This man wore regal clothing with many rings on his fingers. He must have a higher rank within the group. Kendra noticed his face which had a youthful appearance but it was hardened into a mask of war and cruelty.

He looked at her without the slightest expression on his face.

“Who is it you wish to speak with?”

Kendra swallowed her fear and spoke. “I wish to speak with the commanding officer.”

The soldier answered her calmly but in a rude manner. “You’re looking at him.”

“How dare you, come into our village stealing and destroying our homes. You must leave at once!”

The hardened soldier sat staring at her from atop his horse, expressionless.

“Eamon! Round them up. Make sure this one”, pointing to Kendra, “is well taken care of.”

He looked at the other villagers and addressed them, including Kendra.

“You might as well forget about your sweet homes. They are no more. Soon you will take up residence in Castle Mogor of the Dark Lands.” He continued to pace his horse back and forth in front of them. “We leave in one hour!”

He stopped directly in front of Kendra who wore a tired, worried look of defeat on her face.

“By the way dear, my name is Gunnar and you and I will see more of each other later. You can count on that.” He leered at her, turned his horse and rode away.

Thank you for reading this!



About the Creator


Hi there! I’m a fiction writer. Written all my life. Want to inspire if I can. Living on a guest horse ranch in Baja California, Mexico. Married to a Mexican Cowboy!


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