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