Saturday, June 1, 2019

GUEST POST by Patrick Bailey: Exercises to Build Your Character Development

Writing captivating characters is a skill all authors strive to master. Characters are the human element of every story, providing readers with exciting and vulnerable emotions through written work. Building characters is a challenge even if you are creating them through the inspiration of real world people. Real character development that stands the test of time and diversity in readers should always include human vulnerability, engaging descriptions, and realistic navigation of challenges throughout the story. Practice developing your characters with the following exercises if you'd like to take their stories to the next level in your writing.


Dialogue is one of the most powerful tools you can use to develop your characters. Rather than describe what they are doing and thinking, using their own words and mannerisms can illustrate your intentions behind each scene and make your reader feel like they are listening in on a real conversation. Learning how your character speaks and responds in certain conversations will allow you ease and creativity throughout their storyline. Dialogue exercises can help you flesh out conversations that do not even make it into your story, but impact your character's mannerisms and speech over time. Experiment with writing your character in an argument. Experiment with dialogue where they need to end a relationship, or advocate for themselves. Working through these scenarios will help you develop your character's voice before you develop their storyline.

Face Them With Challenges

Captivating your readers' attention is best done by throwing your characters into scenarios where your audience will want to see them win. Difficult situations require perseverance, and readers often relate to the struggles and challenges of obstacles your story holds. The most memorable stories make history when an author can capture human emotions required to make it through any challenge, fact or fiction. If your story needs excitement, consider bringing your characters through journeys where they will need to grow in depth or in human qualities. For example, your character could face an existential crisis that defines who they are. Perhaps they struggle breaking alcohol addiction or develop a deep relationship with someone they had to move past conflict with. No matter what they challenge you feel is appropriate for your character, having them overcome their journey will connect readers to their development throughout your story.

Practice Visual Descriptions

Visual descriptions of your character go far beyond their physical appearance. Of course it is important to give your readers a mental picture of what your characters look like, but how far beyond that can you go? Perhaps you can describe what it looks like when their face reacts to anger. Maybe you can explore their mannerisms or physical behaviors when they feel stressed or excited. In written work, it is especially important to cover descriptions of behaviors not easily shown in books, such as body language or a deep description of their environment. Painting a visual picture of what your characters experience both environmentally and physically will only enhance their story so your readers can grow in understanding and attachment to their journey.


These exercises are the beginning of your path towards experimental character development in your stories. Connecting your readers with characters requires vulnerability, descriptions, and bridges to human emotions created by challenges along the way. Challenge yourself to spend time practicing techniques to enhance your characters' voice or humanity. By following these simple steps, you can understand the picture you are trying to paint for your readers in order to create a captivating storyline.

 Meet the Orator:

Patrick Bailey is a professional freelance writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

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  1. Great tips, Patrick! I should definitely try to use more descriptions in my writing - I don’t think I put enough in. Great post!

  2. Great tips! I'm not a huge fan of too much description, but I love dialogue :)

  3. Thank you for writing for us, Patrick. Amazing tips!