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Developing characters and storylines


When creating characters, it is important to let them appear credible. The way in which they behave has to be well founded.

Developing a character

When working on a character, you collect as much information as possible: appearance, clothing, thoughts, memories, traumas, flashbacks … These will all be covered in the course of the story. This information will reach you not only through the character itself, but also from other people and how they experience it.

During the story, you unfold more and more information about a character. This is very important for the reader, for example, to better understand the protagonist in the choices he / she makes. Watch out! Don’t overdo it with this information. The reader also needs to fill in a few things by himself and fantasize about it.

How do I keep it exciting?

Do not give everything away at the start.
You’re not just giving a list of all the information about the main character. Eg: She had blond hair, bright blue colored nails, and an intriguing look. It gets boring quickly if you do it like this.

You can gradually reveal this information. Eg: ‘Through the shop window I saw a young girl with long blond hair’, the story continues: ‘She gave me the package, it had the same color as her bright blue nails’, ‘Years later, she still had the same intriguing look’ . Spread these elements throughout the whole story. Try handling it delicately without using boring descriptions or summaries.

Describing character traits

Telling it literally is out of the question. You don’t say ‘John is nervous.’
Use other descriptions to make this clear: ‘John had shaky hands when he walked into the conference room.’ Readers understand these descriptions. They shouldn’t be told literally how the character feels.
Are these characters convincing? Have I not been exaggerating? Let friends read some passages. They will answer you honestly.

Person vs. story

An author can have worked out his characters perfectly, but lost sight of the story. Find a middle ground between the two. A book stands or falls by a good story and interesting characters.


The theme of your book has been selected. Now you add characters. This way, your story will eventually take shape. Within a story, there are different storylines. These discuss the character’s different experiences. A story is sometimes also called a plot.

An important part of storylines is the common thread. It is an element that shows up often, and that connects all the events within a storyline with each other.

Develop a storyline

Ideas often arise suddenly. So make sure that you always have a pen and paper, smartphone or tablet at hand to write down these thoughts.
From these ideas a plot often becomes apparent. You can keep a tab on these in e.g.,. Word. Thus, you can shape your characters, locations, time, … with more and more detail. Along the way, you’ll have plenty of details to work out in a scene. And thus full storylines develop.

This is how you sketch a storyline or plot:

1. The teaser
This scene must grab the reader. This is preferably an exciting scene.

2. The framework
Where does the story take place? Who are the characters? This information is necessary in order to understand the story

3. The conflict
The characters have a problem.

4. The action
Tension grows, and more problems arise. This causes conflicts between the characters.

5. The tension
The tension rises until a showdown. These are the events that lead to a climax. They are crucial in keeping the story moving.

6. Climax
This is the (exciting) climax of your story.
In this scene, all the problems come together.

7. Close
The main character recovers after the incident. There are still problems, but they are no longer world threatening.

8. Rest
All problems are solved. The protagonist finds peace but is strongly influenced by the events that have occurred.

9. Conclusion
A sort of epilogue. Here we look to the future. What happens with the characters?

10. Final teaser
Use this only if you are writing a series of books. This is a teaser to enthuse the reader for the next book in your series (and buy it).

On to the next step: Organize your book into chapters.

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