Character Development - From novice to veteran warrior

Character Development

When writing a novel, your hero needs to go through some type of character development through growth or change. For example, your character might begin the story as an innocent bystander who watches things happens to an active participant in solving problems.

Another option might be a novice warrior who is ill-prepared for battle changing into a grizzled veteran. Perhaps your character doesn’t go through such drastic changes. Instead, your character could grow emotionally, such as becoming a better person by overcoming one of their character flaws.

There are many types of changes, but generally, you do want your characters to develop. Allowing your hero to change or show growth adds another dimension to the character. This makes the hero more interesting. It also gives you the chance to introduce new challenges that the hero must overcome.

Static Characters

Yes, I know there are thousands of movies and books in which the character never changes throughout a series, much less one book. James Bond is one such character. He is a suave sophisticated spy who is with a different woman each novel or movie. Zorro and the Lone Rangers are two more characters who stay the same.

These characters aren’t meant to be three-dimensional characters. They are cookie-cutter characters who are placeholders to advance the plot. Generally, these books are all about the action. Consider some of the old westerns or action films. There are many of these movies in which the heroes aren’t even given a name.

Types of Character Development

There are several types of character development. The first is character change. By this, I mean the characters actually change. The character usually starts out weak and becomes a strong hero who saves the day.

The second is character growth. Character growth is when a character overcomes one of their weaknesses. While this might be a physical weakness, it more often means overcoming an emotional weakness. Perhaps they overcome a fear.

While not technically character development, sometimes a character falls to their flaws. For example, the change might involve the hero striving to overcome a character flaw but finally succumbing in the end. Because of this, the character ends up worse off than they were at the beginning of the story.

Best of Both Worlds

I would suggest forcing your hero to overcome at least one character flaw or fear during the Trials of Resolve. In fact, I would invest a considerable amount of time developing this throughout the novel. For example, you could have an arrogant hero who pays the price for that arrogance.  Perhaps the hero never had a valid reason for the arrogance.

This can be combined with the hero actually growing in strength or skill through their training and adventures. At the end of the story, the hero might have a reason for arrogance but instead becomes humble.

Give Your Characters a Flaw to Overcome

In fact, I would suggest each and every character in your novel have a character flaw. This flaw might be the way the hero is able to overcome the villain in your story. You can find a list of possible flaws here. If your characters don’t have a flaw, then you haven’t given enough thought to their character development.



If you are interested in more suggestions for your novel, please check out some of my other posts, such as my advice on what you should think about before you begin writing.