Character development in the thriller genre

Before I begin plotting the path of my novel, I write the characters’ names on index cards and start describing their physical appearance. As the plot develops within my mind, I then add personality traits, quirks, habits and words often used by the character onto the cards.
I do bear in mind that in the thriller genre, characters are often described more by their actions, which in turn illustrates the concept of the novel.

However, I do enjoy reading and writing psychological thrillers, and I believe for this purpose, it’s important to have a more in depth knowledge of the characters. This more rounded vision enables the reader to feel the characters presence and connect with them on an emotional level. The reader can travel with the characters and appreciate any changes the character makes.

The plot is generated and moved along by the characters’ interactions and actions within the novel community. Like the proverbial onion, more of the character’s traits are exposed, which can add tension to the plot, especially as the reader discovers a darker side to a character, who had otherwise appeared benign.

I enjoy writing darker characters, but I am aware that the reader needs to care for the protagonist, so that their life matters within the plot. However, perfection is not sought, otherwise the character would feel false. There is no such thing as a perfect character or perfect crime – to do this would not engage the reader into believing the novel – you want to leave them wanting more.

When the reader has finished the novel, you want them to miss the characters and feel like they have lost a friend – if you are writing a series, this would leave the door open for the protagonist to once again live in the reader’s mind, until the enforced ‘rest’ came along.

Happy Word Flow One & All

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