[A Thought] Character Development: Beginning, Middle and End

by: Tania Lasenburg

Instant fame, instant gratification, and instant satisfaction are three terms the world is currently living by. In most cases, I mean Instant fame, instant gratification and instant satisfaction are three terms the world is currently living by. In most practical cases, this isn’t an issue i.e. fast internet connection. It becomes an issue when art is no longer done for the right reasons. When art, be it writing, photography or a painting, isn’t created with passion but is only done for profit, bragging rights or it is simply done to follow a trend it is noticeable and disappointing.

As an avid reader, let me say that I am deeply offended when I read a book an author threw together. What I mean by put together is when an author throws every cliche, every trending topic, and every basic plot together with either an amazing setting or something you have already seen before. I can forgive some cliches and even forgive throwing trending topics to make characters relevant. But what I cannot forgive is the lack of character development.

Character development is the most important part of a book. If anyone disagrees with that, keep reading and you will completely agree with me. It can make or break a story no matter how good the plot is. If a character is a whiny brat, finding out his grandmother is Jack the Ripper will be completely overlooked.

There is a beginning, middle and end to character development no matter how short your story is. It isn’t something to be taken lightly i.e. giving the protagonist a backstory to explain why they have trust issues isn’t enough. They need to grow.

In the beginning, the protagonist needs to have a conflict; be in internal or external, there needs to be an issue the character must deal with. This conflict must test the character’s very existence and it has to grow and develop, shaping the character’s actions and thoughts as the story goes on. But this doesn’t only apply to the protagonist. The antagonist, as well as other supporting characters, need to be developed at various intensities. They support not only the protagonist but also the conflict.

In the middle, the protagonist, antagonist and all surrounding characters need to break out their shell. Once a conflict is established these characters need to do things they normally don’t do, which will ultimately cause them to grow into who they should be. A character cannot stay stagnate when there are things going on. It creates a dull story, it creates a boring book, and it creates a reader who just placed your book in the “did not finish” section.

If a reader has made it all the way to the end of the book, then all characters need to be in top shape. This makes or breaks a book and if the characters, especially the protagonist, is still the whinny brat they were, at the beginning of the book, it isn’t going to work.

At the end of the book, there needs to be some kind of comfortability within the characters. The conflict doesn’t need to be completely resolved but characters should have grown to a point where they are relatable to the reader and the reader wants to continue watching their journey. It doesn’t matter if the genre is fantasy, paranormal or contemporary, there needs some kind of connection with the reader and the characters.

Again character development is the most important part of a book. No matter how good the plot is, how well the setting is described, if your characters are lame the book will be lamer.