It's Character Development, Jim, But Not As We Know It

Posted on 28th February, 2015

Here's a way of exploring your characters and adding depth. I call it “doing the other thing.” It is a way of challenging the character and making him/her more rounded and realistic.

Take an established character of whom the reader will have developed certain expectations, and do “the other thing” with them, ie plonk them in the middle of a situation that is the opposite of what they can cope with. It is also the opposite of what the reader associates with them.

The best way to explain it is to use an example from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In an episode called Disaster, the Enterprise was left stranded in space, with all the different parts of the ship cut off from one another, and the characters stranded in the wrong places.

Hence Captain Picard, who would have coped better with being locked in a cellar with a dozen Romulan assassins, was trapped in a lift with some children.

Counsellor Troi, as the senior officer on the bridge, became the captain, a task which was made more challenging because Ensign Ro was set upon undermining her.

And Worf, the mighty Klingon warrior, had to deliver the baby.

The episode provided drama and comedy, but best of all it provided character development as the crew members struggled to rise to their own particular occasions.

I think this is a great way to explore and extend a character. Do you have your own way of developing characters?


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Comments (4)

Make them suffer, Jen? Never!! You are quite right - it is important that we see characters earning their happy ending. Thanks as always for dropping by.
You're too polite, Susanna! 'Challenging' your characters is a nice way of saying, make them suffer. That's the way I develop my characters too. Seeing them rise to the occasion, and earn their happy ever after is so satisfying and, I suppose, one of the reasons I write romance.

As always, thanks for an interesting post. xx
I know you've tried this idea, Nicola. It was reading your blog about it that gave me the idea for writing this post. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you are feeling better.
Gret idea, Susanna. I've tried that one and it is such fun! Wishing you a lovely week.