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How to Develop Story Characters

How to Create Story Characters with Depth and Personality


7/12/20231 min read

In this article, I want to show you how to create human-like story characters with depth, personality, feelings and background.

Put time into their background. Many writers have made the mistake of making characters evil, depressed, overly friendly without taking time to explain where those traits came from. Family background is an important part of any character, explaining where they came from, their traits and their personality. Too often has a character been given trauma without past happenings. Include their history.

Example: Arielle had grown up without the comforting presence of parents around. Years of being shuttled from unaccepting foster home to home had turned her into a cynical, closed-off teen.

That being said, protagonists shouldn’t be the only characters to have a proper background or trauma. Developing each and every character in turn, including the villain is well worth it for an engaging story.


Put some depth into them. Feelings don’t only include sadness or happiness. There isn’t always a reason for depression- just like there’s not always a reason to be happy. Put some depth into feelings, into characters, into personalities. Don’t just make them angry, make them feel betrayed, hated, anxious. Human emotions are a broth boiling away in millions of flavors- not only one.

Example: Ethan Morales stood in the principal’s office, his head hung low. He felt sick with the amount of emotions rushing through him- he felt betrayed by Benjamin, ashamed of himself, anxious at what Paxton would say to him, and overall angry.

The character might be feeling that particular emotion because of some triumph, some mistake, or some deed. Or perhaps memories made them feel that way. There’s never an excuse for emotions- we all have them.


Make their appearance unique. All the YA books I’ve ever read have the protagonist looking snatched in a hoodie-jacket, a messy bun and glowing hazel orbs. Like, PLEASE. Did they even try? Make your character look either relatable or unique. Not everyone has blonde hair and blue eyes, send some love to the ordinary people.

Example: Jade had shoulder-length black curls which set off her cocoa complexion rendering her neither gorgeous nor unremarkable. Her wide set eyes, dark irises and a Grecian nose finished off her face. She looked best with her dark brows knitted in anger, the curtain bangs lightly fallen over her forehead.

Don’t make them overly gorgeous or overly plain, take inspiration from movies and Google, make them shine.