How to Develop Strong, Memorable Characters in Your Novel

6 clear, sharp color headshots on top of blurred black and white depictions of crowds of people

Following on from our recent post, 8 Obstacles to Writing a Successful Novel and How to Avoid Them, in this post we take a deeper look at how to avoid creating weak characters.

One of the most crucial elements of a compelling novel is the creation of strong, memorable characters. These characters breathe life into the story, allowing readers to form connections and become emotionally invested. Crafting well-developed characters can be a challenging task for any writer, but with careful planning and attention to detail, you can create individuals that resonate with your readers long after they’ve finished your book. In this blog post, we will explore some essential tips to help you develop strong and memorable characters for your novel.

1. Know Your Characters Inside Out

Before you start writing, it’s essential to have a deep understanding of your characters. Take the time to build their backgrounds, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and desires. Create detailed character profiles that delve into their history, family, relationships, and even their hobbies. The more you know about your characters, the easier it will be to bring them to life on the page.

2. Give Your Characters Conflicting Traits

To make your characters feel authentic and relatable, give them a combination of strengths and weaknesses. Flawed characters are often more memorable because readers can identify with their struggles. Consider giving your protagonist qualities that contradict each other, such as a brave individual who is also plagued by self-doubt. These conflicting traits create internal conflicts and make the character more three-dimensional.

3. Create Unique and Distinctive Personalities

Avoid creating characters that blend into the background by giving each one a distinctive personality. Consider their mannerisms, speech patterns, quirks, and gestures. Think about how they react in different situations and their overall worldview. By giving each character a unique voice and personality, you’ll make them stand out and leave a lasting impression on your readers.

4. Show, Don’t Tell

When introducing your characters, show their traits and personalities through their actions and dialogue instead of telling the reader directly. Allow readers to discover your characters gradually, letting their true nature unfold throughout the story. This approach makes the characters feel more realistic and engages readers on a deeper level.

5. Develop Complex Relationships

Characters are shaped by their interactions with others. Create complex relationships between your characters that involve conflicts, alliances, and growth. By exploring these dynamics, you’ll add depth to your characters and provide opportunities for character development throughout your novel.

6. Give Your Characters Goals and Motivations

Every character should have clear goals and motivations that drive their actions. What do they want to achieve? What are their desires and fears? Understanding their motivations will not only help you develop their personalities but will also guide their character arcs throughout the story.

7. Embrace Character Growth and Change

Characters that undergo personal growth and change throughout the narrative are often the most memorable. Allow your characters to evolve and learn from their experiences, overcoming obstacles and developing new perspectives. This transformation will create a satisfying and impactful journey for your readers.


Developing strong, memorable characters is a crucial aspect of crafting a compelling novel. By investing time in understanding your characters, giving them conflicting traits, creating unique personalities, and showing their traits through actions, you can bring them to life on the page. Building complex relationships, providing clear goals and motivations, and allowing for character growth will further enhance their impact. Remember, when readers connect with your characters, they are more likely to be deeply engaged in your story, making it an unforgettable reading experience. So, dive into the world of character development and watch as your novel springs to life with vibrant and unforgettable individuals.

About Ian Feavearyear 20 Articles
Ian was born and bred in the rural county of Suffolk, England but feels very much at home in northern Oregon. He is married to Robynne Miller, the former Board President of Inspire. Until November 2023, Ian was Inspire's Blog and Membership Director, webmaster, and general tech go-to person. Ian is a law school valedictorian with a Juris Doctor from Concord Law School (now "Purdue Global Law School") and a paralegal certificate from Humboldt State University.


  1. This is such good, concise information, Ian. The last point regarding actually connecting readers to our characters can be forgotten in the work of creating story. Thank you for the important reminder.

  2. I really appreciate the reminder to give our characters conflicting traits. I’ve heard that before, but it seems counterintuitive to give the protagonist weak traits. Your explanation makes sense: It helps the reader identify with the characters through their struggles and makes the characters more three-dimensional.

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