When you write a piece of nonfiction, you don’t necessarily have to worry about developing the character from scratch, but you still need to make sure their actions are intriguing enough to keep the audience’s attention. Let’s say that you’re writing a piece where you aren’t sure how that nonfictional character would react, what do you do? What about fiction writing? When you’re trying to tell the story of a character you created, how do you figure out what their genuine reaction would be?
These aren’t easy questions to answer. In fact, character development is one of the most difficult aspects of writing because the success/failure of a story relies on it. Luckily, there are free writing activities that can help, but there’s also a video game where the entire focus is character development: The Sims.
The Sims is a video game franchise that has been around for years. The video game focuses on a character that you create and customize everything about, and then you put them in a house, get them a job, and control the actions they do, such as: when they eat, what they eat, when they sleep, who they talk to, how they talk to them, and so on. As the game develops further with time, the makers enabled more aspects that the player could customize. The Sims 3 is the most up to date with The Sims 4 being developed now. In the Sims 3, one can customize every aspect of how a person physically looks from how high their cheek bones are to how short/tall their legs are. You can pick their personality, zodiac sign, customize their clothes color, give them piercings and so much more. You can completely make the characters your own. You can also create their partner, or have them flirt with who you choose, give them a car and hobbies, have them get a job and so much more.
This video game franchise gives you complete control of every aspect of character development. It’s a good way to give anyone a great experience of character development. It can also be looked at as someone being a total world ruler controlling all their minions, but to each their own. By having these characters you’ve created, you become invested in their lives and want the best things to happen to them. It almost gives the exact same sensation as reading a book whose characters you love.
Here’s a writing exercise to try if you’re stuck with a character and you don’t think you know their actions well enough to tell their story. Take the character you have and think of a random scenario, like going to a fast food restaurant, getting their hair done/cut, going to the grocery store, etc, and try to see how that character would react. Make the scenario random, but make it something that any person/character would have to do at some point just to try and develop the basics of them. Free write for about 15-20 minutes and see what you can come up with. What does it tell you about that character?
There are plenty other activities you can try to develop the character even more or help you if you’re stuck. If you’re up for trying something new, try and make a “sim” of your character and see how they act in the virtual world. There are a ton of expansion packs to make every character’s experience more real. You never know what you’ll find out about them.