How to Develop Characters in 2022: Step-By-Step Guide

How to Develop Dynamic Character in 2022

Character development is one of the most crucial factors you should focus on when writing your story.

It’s not only the action-packed scenes or plot twists that will have readers invested in your story (although those are great, too) it’s about crafting in-depth characters that resonate with your readers. Creating a connection between your readers and your characters can help your story resonate with them, therefore making your story more impactful.

To help you create dynamic characters that foster this connection, let’s first look at what character development means and why it’s so important in storytelling. 

Character Development: What does it mean, and why is it important?

Character development is the process of creating a 3-dimensional character that has depth, traits, personality, flaws, and motivations. It's an in-depth process that will help you understand the essence of your character. By spending quality time on character development, you can craft realistic, believable characters that resonate with readers. 

The human elements your character displays will help readers connect with them and invest in the role they play in your story. This is why it is so important to spend time understanding your characters. If your character development falls short, your readers may find your characters boring, uninteresting, vague, or unbelievable. 

Now that we know why character development is so important - let's look at the steps you can take to create dynamic characters.

Character Development Step #1: Give them a backstory

Construct a comprehensive backstory for your character that identifies crucial elements of their life. Things to consider are:

  • When and where were they born?

  • Do they have a family?

  • What are their beliefs, and why?

  • What are their political or religious standpoints?

  • What is their culture?

All of these variables are what will bring substance to your character. Even the smallest details about your character should somehow relate to their backstory and answer questions on why they are the way that they are.

The backstory helps you shape your character, but not everything about your character's backstory needs to make it into your story. It’s just a way to help you create a fully fleshed-out character that has depth and realistic qualities.

Yellow sticky


Creating micro-moments within a character’s life that shaped their beliefs or lead to a significant change in their psychology will help in creating 3-dimensional characters. Life is simply a series of moments and memories. By crafting specific moments and memories for your character you make them more realistic and life-like.


Character Development Step #2: Make them relatable

We are not saying all your characters have to be relatable, but brainstorming some traits that make a character human will help your readers connect with them. Great characters and great stories are the ones that make your readers feel things like empathy, hope, anger, fear, happiness, etc. When they are relatable, you’re more likely to create unforgettable characters. 

Some things to consider to make your character more relatable:

Give them a flaw: We all struggle with flaws. To make your character relatable - give them a physical, emotional, or personality flaw - something they struggle with.

  • Example: Arrogance - A character with this flaw may believe they are better than everyone, which limits their ability to make meaningful relationships:

Make them vulnerable: Vulnerability is a great way to give your readers insight into your character's inner persona. When a character struggles with their weakness, desires, or fears - it will resonate with readers.

  • Example: Your character struggles to be brave, but if they want to be the hero, they must get out of their comfort zone and learn how to fight. 

Give them values: Giving your character values will portray to your readers what the character deems important or what the character believes in. It will also help you shape the character's actions. 

  • Example: Your character values loyalty. They always side with their friends even when they are wrong.

Character Development Step #3: Give them a Mask and Counter Mask.

Mask and counter mask is a way to exemplify your character's inverse traits. 

Their “mask” refers to the face they show everyone. The personality, traits, and beliefs that they openly display, showing the true essence of their character.

The “counter mask” refers to the inner traits your character has that contrast with their “mask,” typically showing their repressed feelings or hidden fantasy. The counter mask is displayed during times of vulnerability, crisis, or moments of desperation. 

  • For example, Your character may outwardly display traits of bravery, boasting about epic battles won and how heroic they are on the battlefield - their “mask”.

  • In contrast, when the day for battle arrives - they show cowardice - shrinking away and trying to hide - this would be considered their “counter mask.”

Both traits innately and equally will represent the character which is what will give your character depth and intrigue.

The mask/counter mask can go either way with positive or negative traits depending on your character. Typically, a hero protagonist will have a darker side counter mask while an anti hero protagonist may have a more positive counter mask. 

Character Development Step #4: Give them a “Dark Room”

The dark room is a term used to describe the hidden meaning about your story or the hidden reason why your character is the way that they are. The’ dark room’ will never be explicitly explained in the story or never described to readers, but it will be inferred based on the events of your story and how your character acts. 

For instance - say your character loves to travel - she never stays in one place more than a year. She says it's because she has “wanderlust,” when in reality, her 'darkroom' is that she is afraid to settle down and build roots. This is never actually said in the story - but it is inferred by her constant need to leave a place once she starts forming attachments.

Using the darkroom method is great for character development because it gives the reader a sneak peek into the character's inner conflict without explicitly explaining it. Your reader can conclude the characters 'dark room' on their own without ever being told what it is.

Consider using: a series of events that dramatically fall apart with the character always being in the center/cause of it all, or maybe use a secondary character as foil that is in constant conflict with the main character over the same topic.

Blue sticky note.

⚡️ACTION STEP⚡️: How to create a “darkroom” for your character

First: You must know your story’s theme.

Second: Take your theme and apply it to your character (these usually overlap, anyway)

Third: Take your character's inner struggle and infer this within your story.

Character Development Step #5: Add Some Artful Incongruity

Artful incongruity is a term used to describe how a character can be stereotyped one way while displaying contradictory characteristic traits to their stereotype.

In character development - this is a great way to add complexity and depth to your character in a not-so-obvious way. Maybe there are details about your character that would not normally fit in the “box” they are categorized in yet -  somehow they work together for that character. 

One way to make this work for your character development is to think about how others may stereotype  your character and then give them character traits that contradict that “type”. 

Example: You have a character whose “stereotype” might be considered a loner. 

  • They never go out, and tend to keep to themselves. To add an essence of “artful incongruence” maybe later on in the story your reader finds out that the character actually is a high end party planner who plans big lavish events. Other characters  think that this”loner” character doesn't want anything to do with parties, but in reality they do - they plan them, they just prefer to work behind the scenes vs  attending them front and center.

Avoid making the contradictions too obvious. Overtly stereotyping large segments of people may come off as a cliche.

Artful incongruity is not a girl who likes sports (no group of people, including girls, are a monolith, so a girl playing sports should not be a surprise.) It’s about finding contradictions that deepen your reader's understanding and perception of the character.

Character Development Step #6: Character Role

Finally, make sure your character has a character role. The character’s role is the job or impact they will have in the story. Every character must have a role, even if it is as simple as supporting the main character. Without character roles, your story may not progress smoothly. A character role also represents how characters interact with one another and will help readers understand the relationships between characters. 

Examples of character roles are:

  • the love interest

  • the confidant

  • the foil

  • The jester

  • The outlaw

Without a character role, the character may distract from the story. Characters without a role risk being seen as a nuisance and may turn reader's away from your story.

Consider the impact or role your character plays in the story. If they don't have one, or if it's irrelevant, you should consider taking the character out or reworking their role so that it makes sense for your story. 

For example: A character is trying to get a magic crystal. 

  • If this character is the protagonist, then they probably act as the hero in the story and are the one that overcomes a series of obstacles to obtain the crystal. 

  • If this character is the love interest, their role might be to support or comfort another character. Thus the crystal is a way to show affection or a gift that reinvigorates the hero to move the story forward after an embarrassing defeat.

Understanding the role each character plays will help clarify to you - the writer - why the character does what they do and how they should do it. It will also help the reader better understand the story as a whole. Remember, your tale should be consistent, cohesive, and makes sense to the reader. 

Character Development: Putting it all together

By following these steps, you will be well on your way to creating dynamic characters that intrigue your readers and get them connected with your story. Though you may not follow all these steps for every character, adding some of these elements to your main characters will help you develop interesting characters that feel realistic and believable to your readers.

Interested in creating your own story and developing your characters?

Sign up for our FREE online comic bookmaker and create your story today! 

Online Comic Book Maker Storyspread Characters

Hi, Welcome to!

Comic creation made simple. Create graphic novels with a single click. Add character, backgrounds, and more.

Easy to use. Say goodbye to searching far & wide for an expensive illustrator.

Tell your story. Join other creatives, readers, and hobbyist in producing high quality & beautiful comics

Read. Read other’s comics for FREE and share with others

Grow. Grow an audience you love with the stories YOU imagined

Were you can create a comic and graphic novel WITHOUT drawing. Simple and easy! Made for all skill levels. Click-n-drag comic book characters, scences into panels.

Online comic book creator online landscape setting from Storyspread.

Create a comic just like this! Here.