Round Robin – July 2020 – Character Development

How do you develop a character who is different
in personality from all the other characters you have developed, or from
yourself? This is the question this month.

A Debt for Rosalie

In this short contemporary novel, A Debt for Rosalie, I have a villain called Steve. Steve is alcoholic. Being alcoholic is not in itself villainy, but it can cause characteristics or personality traits to harden. So, for example, where a person might be less than scrupulous – say they see a ten pound note lying and a person getting into a bus who has just pulled their bus pass from their back pocket, they might let the bus go and then pick up the note. Were they a scrupulously honest person, they would alert the bus passenger before they get onto the bus.

“Have you dropped a tenner?”

The need for the next drink and then the need to always have a drink, reduces that scrupulousity factor until the world owes Steve a drink. In particular he came to believe his fiancée, Rosalie, owed him a drink and her business and…

I think you get the picture. Building the character was a delight because Steve is so unlike me. I simply turned rational thought on its head and looked at the resolution to problems from the wrong end of the emotional telescope.

I did find it hard to let Steve lie as I abhor lying. However, lying is about power and people in Steve’s condition are losing power as their grip on their jobs, social standing, driving licence, house is eroded. Lying may be the only power they have left – think Mr Wickham.

The writer has to set aside self and listen to the voice. My own inclination is to problem solve and as any creator of fictions knows, that’s no use at all in building up tension that will keep the reader reading. The writer needs to ramp up the problems faced by their characters and they do that by letting the character speak in their own voice. Once I can hear the characters speaking, their story unwinds in my head.

For other approaches to this creative task, why not visit the bloggers below?


A Debt for Rosalie is available in large supermarkets, newsagents and from the DC Thomson online shop


Diane Bator
Skye Taylor
Connie Vines
Dr. Bob Rich
Helena Fairfax
Beverley Bateman

Fiona McGier
Rhobin L Courtright


12 thoughts on “Round Robin – July 2020 – Character Development

  1. Hi Anne, I also love to build characters who are unlike me. I understand what you mean about ‘letting the character speak in their own voice’. Sometimes it’s a while before I can ‘hear’ the voice of my characters and I might have written a few thousand words before they become ‘real’. It’s really interesting to hear how other authors create their own imaginary people! I enjoyed your post and this topic.


  2. Excellent point about not letting your characters solve their problems too easily or too quickly – I have the same issue. I hate for my characters to suffer so I’m on the side of fixing it for them which, of course, loses the tension and the story becomes boring.

    An excellent example of how addictions can make a decent person spiral down to some less than stellar behavior. I was writing a story about a hero and heroine with their own conflicts and issues and on stage strode a young man who introduced himself as an excon who did time because his addition to drugs after a serious injury in the military drove him to dealing and stealing until he got caught. He was a secondary character but he was so intriguing that I itch to write his story one day.


    • Hi Skye, I did work as a ‘responsible’ adult in an addictions’ unit so what I can say is that addictions are across society and there often is, or was, a respectable and intelligent person within. As to the problem solving I do work away at it. Anne


    • Hi Rhobin, Many lives – and it includes the family of, not just the person – are bedevilled by that phrase – ‘I can stop anytime but not today.’ Another good topic,many thanks, Anne


  3. You’ve got Steve spot on, Anne. And it’s always self-justified, isn’t it? I bet he is thinking, “My lucky day!”
    You show deep empathy in being able to get into the mind of someone who does things you never would.


  4. I enjoyed your post and how you developed Steve and his character because of alcohol. And good point about not solving your characters problems too easily. Beverley


  5. “Once I can hear the characters speaking, their story unwinds in my head.” Yup. This is how I write all of my stories. Also why I have to have quiet when I write–with music playing, how can I “hear” the voices? My non-writer friends smirk at me when I say things like that, but other writers just nod, knowingly. LOL.


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