There is a lot of information readily available on the internet about character development... but I end up going by the seat of my pants. While it might sound like some sort of psychological disorder, I find that my characters speak to me upon the first inklings of a story line. I know what they look like, all about their past and their hopes and dreams of the future.
One of the most important things to me about a character is their name. Elaborate, made-up names I avoid like the plague as it can get confusing very fast. For example, Lord of the Rings. Oh jeez! The only names that don't all run together are the hobbit's! I'll take Sam and Mary over Boromir, Belemir, Castamir, Faramir and all of the other names that end in mir. There are other ways to have a name make a strong impression without having to slap a reader in the face with your creativity. Using another example, Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey. That is a pretty normal name but full of impact. Christian makes you think of virtue, honor, openness; while Grey brings to mind solid rock or stone and being void of emotion. These are things that give weight to the beautiful yet confused, narcissistic billionaire.
After the name, I want to know what they look like. I may have a general idea but to make it stand out even stronger in my mind, I use pinterest, deposit photo and google images. Rather than have a general idea, I want to find someone that fits my idea of the character. When I find a person that fits the description, I pin it to my Pinterest page I create for the story, even if I'm not ready to write the story yet. It really helps to pull up that board when I'm writing so I can glance at the image I have for the character I'm describing.
Other than that, the final important thing is the character's motivation. Every living person has something that they want more than anything else, whether it's having a child of their own so they can be the good father they never had or a cure for cancer. Characters should be no different. They need something to drive them on – the engine behind their actions. If they don't have this motivation, then what's going to create the conflict that a story needs to stay interesting? The story will certainly fall flat.
In sticking with the character's name, physical description and their motivation, I am able to form a pretty well-rounded character that will work with the ebb and flow of my story and create the necessary conflict with the other characters.
Ex-monitor tech, former graphic designer and lover of all things food and drink, Olivia Leighton writes paranormal romances which usually contain:
1) Normal, every day women getting thrown into a world they never could have imagined.
2) Impossibly good-looking, alpha male heroes of the fanged, furry or rich variety. (Sometimes all of the above!)
3) Witty banter among family, friends and lovers.
She is a huge fan of cliff-hangers and happily-ever-afters... with the occasional dark parts thrown in.
Olivia lives in Houston with her husband, 2 dogs (yorkie and rat terrier) and two cats (grey and ginger).