Planning a Character

two dogs playing illustrating an article for writers about planning a characterPlanning a character is important. If you don’t pay attention, you may find yourself with a character who is passive.

A passive character is one who only reacts to changes around them and who never forces change for themselves.

Characters who are passive, who don’t change, seldom make us want to follow them through a 2-300 page story.

An interesting character is one who embarks on a journey where they are tested, and where they change and grow.


A list of physical features is not a characterization – just a description.

You do need to keep notes on your character’s appearance in order to avoid changing their hair colour from chapter to chapter, or worse. But there is more to character than clothes and appearance.

Despite what advertisers and beauty magazines tell us, we are a hell of a lot more than just how we look – all of us. So are the characters we create.

To begin to develop a character, we must decide how best to change them.


You decide what your characters present circumstances are and you decide how to change them.

It is your character’s reaction to change that reveal their characteristics. As a writer, you can depict your characters reactions and chart their emotions.

two dogs nose to nose illustrating an article for writers about planning a characterYou can let your reader in on your character’s inner thoughts or not. But be aware that this is a decision you can make and remember to be consistent.

Human beings change when circumstances do.

We have to change and adapt, in order to survive. This is probably why we enjoy stories.

Stories are a way for us to project our fears and ideas on to a fictional character and see how they survive. If they can – maybe we can?


Find out your characters deepest fear and make them face it.  Do whatever it takes to shake them up – this forms the basis of a story.

I faced this problem when I was writing my novella Sweet Little Things. I had decided to write about a character, Pat, who was shy and isolated after losing her husband many years ago.

Her husband had done the talking for both of them and Pat had great difficulties communicating in the everyday world.

I knew I had to break her isolation for any kind of story to unfold.The world was going on around her and in many respects, she was in danger of becoming a passive character.

What I did was introduce her to a new neighbour and placed her in a difficult situation where she was forced to confront her fears – she had to engage and speak.

Characters and stories cannot exist without each other. If you forget that, you will end up with a character profile or list of events, but you won’t have a story.

Read this article for more about planning a story.

If you are just starting on your writing journey or are stuck for ideas go here.

Enjoy your writing.


P.S. All the creative writing tips and information are provided here free for you. All I ask is that you leave a comment in the box and like, or share so that others may learn too.

Sweet Little Things

A moving and uplifting story. A misguided gift to the little boy next door causes racial tension and a lonely widow is forced to confront her fears.

book cover of Sweet Little Things by Grace Jollliffe - illustrating a post about planning a character

Download Sweet Little Things Here



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