Every story needs characters and memorable ones at that but not all characters will be as memorable as others. When starting out with your story you may think of a plotline first, or setting the scene on that first page, or sketching a highly dubious or vulnerable character for the reader to be drawn towards. Will they have sympathy for the character, or will they hate them immediately?
Different writers approach storylines and characters in different ways. Some writers will write down every tiny detail about the character’s clothes, their hobbies, where they live, the music they like, and their good points and bad points, even if they don’t use all the information in the story. Other writers will just fire off and set the scene and allow the character to develop along with the story line as they write.
You can use dialogue to indirectly suggest what type of personality the character has. This allows the reader to do much of the creating rather than all details being given in print. Sometimes it is not necessary to finely detail their hair or eye colour, and just focus on the stuff that gives the character, character, shall we say. [ John had long blonde hair, striking blue eyes, and a body that cried out hero]
Admittedly that previous description would fit well in an all action thriller, a bit cheesy, but notice I didn’t describe his body just say, ‘a body that cried out hero’ and the reader can fill in the rest with their imagination.
[Katy was biting her nails. She could hear the sound of the clock ticking. She was still in bed and it was 1PM in the afternoon.] Here there is not too much character description straightaway but enough to show tension and enough to show there is a problem because why else would she be in her bed at one o’ clock a.m. biting her nails. This is a more indirect method for introducing character.
A character can also be achieved by using dialogue alone, to suggest the more finer points of character like angry, vulnerable, paranoid etc.
‘Hello. Who are you? and what are you doing in my house?’ shouted Katy. The man said nothing. Just stood there.
Katy picked up the brass statue, ‘Get the fuck out of my house!’ she screamed.
Through dialogue we have the ability to paint Katy as a strong character or a vulnerable one depending on how she reacts or engages with her world.
[Katy dropped to her knees. She no longer trusted her senses. Was there someone standing there? or were the drugs playing tricks on her? ‘Please leave me alone,’ she cried, and then curled up in a ball.
As we or you can see there are many ways to develop characters and the trick would be to find a balance between engaging the reader with the characters through dialogue, and action, and also detailing their identity, habits and traits through the prose.