With a short story, developing a character is one of the most crucial aspects. You don’t have a lot of time to go into a person’s back story, or for the reader to get to know them, so you need to get them on their side as quickly as you can. There are several ways that you can go about developing character, and we recommend incorporating all of them to some degree. Below are some of the ways that you can develop the characters in any short story.
Appearance – First and foremost, give the reader something to picture when they think of your character. How old are they? What color is their hair? How do they dress? Simple things like this will allow your reader to form an image in their mind while they are reading. Don’t go into too much detail however, as you want to leave something up to the imagination. Just enough description so that they can distinguish the different characters from one another in their own mind’s eye.
Background – How a person got to where they are says a lot about them. We are a result of all of the decisions we have made in our life, and each one of them is important. You don’t have time to list everything that has happened to your character throughout their life, so just pick out an important few. Knowing what a character has gone through will help your readers to relate and understand why they make the decisions that they do while they are reading the story.
Relationships – How does your character interact with others? Are they nice? Are they racist? How they treat other people says a lot about them, and can help your reader to get a better idea as to what your character is like. Don’t keep your character in solitary confinement the whole time, as letting them talk with others is a great way to show more about them. (And if your story is about someone in solitary confinement, maybe your character can think back to a time when they did interact with other people. These tips can be bent to suit your needs!)
Inner Monologue – Lastly, how does your character think? How are they perceiving the situation they are in? Do their actions match their thoughts? The best way to understand someone is to get inside their head, and you can do that for your reader. Let us hear what they are thinking about and we will have a better idea as to who they are as a person.
Building a character can be tough, but if you use the tips mentioned above in different ways, you should end up with a character that is believable. If you can do that, then your readers will feel a connection with that character, no matter who they are or what they are doing.
For more information, here is a short Youtube video with some helpful advice: