Character development is crucial to an interesting and realistic story. But it’s something that’s often misunderstood and often overcomplicated. When you’re writing a story, the first thing you need is a plot. Then you need people or ideas to act out that plot. Pretty simple, right?
So when you’re writing your stories, the most important thing you can do for your characters are demonstrate their purpose within the plot. What are they trying to accomplish? What is their role in the story? What do they need in the moment?
You’re going to be tempted to flood the pages with details about your characters in hopes of making them more interesting or accessible. Where were they born? What did their parents do? Why are they unhappy? But there is nothing more interesting than stating the impact they’re going to have on the story you’re trying to tell. That’s really what the reader wants. Those details will come naturally, and they should come later. But the most important detail of all that should take precedent over all others is the idea of why a character is part of your story.
Do that, and you’ll find that character development isn’t nearly as intimidating. Don’t force it. Explain it.
And as always, Write On.