Character Development: All in the Family

Sometimes I get ahead of myself and consider big events and other things happening in a character’s life before I think about the family that they were born into. I forgot, after several months of working on her, that Kasia had eight aunts and uncles collectively, and countless more cousins. Grandparents, too.

It’s easy to lose sight of, to be honest, when your focus is on the character and what they involve their life with. Unless their parents are very involved in their life, too, it’s easy to forget they exist, too.

Stop and think about it. Which characters have you mapped out the family tree for, figuratively speaking?  Do they have a good relationship with aunts and uncles, how long has it been since they had lunch with or talked to their cousins? Are they an orphan, an only child, do they have an adoptive family or were they raised without much in the way of maternal and paternal influence?

Or were they raised in a family that’s closer than most best friends usually are? Was there turmoil that broke them apart later, does everyone hate each other for it?

These little prompts are fun for me. It helps me consider and round out some characters, to really think about what I’m doing and, usually, it brings out new things to write, new angles to let my mind run wild over. Don’t hesitate to let it do the same for you!

-The Novice Wordsmith

3 thoughts on “Character Development: All in the Family

  1. It can be easy to forget that our characters are people too–but when we can think of them as people, instead of characters, that’s when they really connect, and the story comes alive. Sometimes it can be easy to forget about family or characters and relationships outside of ones strictly necessary for plot. Good to think about, great post!


    1. Exactly! Giving them experience outside of the plot and adding smaller details, little bits that fill out their life, is what turns the character from two dimensional to three. It sets them apart and gives them more than just one goal, and it can really be a lot of fun fleshing it all out. One of my favorite things to do, too, which is adding personal jokes and callbacks to certain events. Thank you, by the way!


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