Characters are arguably the most important part of a novel – they drive the story and keep it unified. Their development, in the mind of the author as well as in the story itself is of utmost importance. Here’s why character development is important for a novel or book.
Why Character Development Is Important For a Novel or Book
Builds up plot
Plot and character are inextricably linked to each other. The plot is the product of the character’s actions and the happenings of the story result in the character’s temperament and qualities. Thus, it is the character that gives meaning to the plot. It is the character that channels it through its crests and troughs. In other words, the character is the pilot driving the plot-plane.
Makes ending more satisfactory
Rounded characters, that are well developed in the author’s mind and in the story, which the plot moulds and betters, are what readers take away from the story. They make the ending fulfilling, because the reader witnesses a journey. This makes the reader feel he has come a long way, which makes him more attached to the story.
Helps the reader connect with the story
The reader may or may not connect to the plot, setting or other elements of fiction because they may be divorced from him or her. But the character is what the reader instantly connects with, because it is the character that the author endows with humanlike qualities. Thus, the reader must love or hate (but have strong feelings) for the character for the story to work.
Enhances the impact of the book
A book that has a very innovative plot but flat characters, who don’t have backstories or flaws and redemptive qualities will fall flat. This is because throughout the book, readers have an emotional involvement the character’s stories. The reader views the whole plot from the eyes of the character. Thus, if the characters don’t work, the story ceases to have impact.
Makes the conflict more real and more engaging
The conflict of the story, which gives the readers something to root for and believe in, centres around the protagonist of the story. If the reader doesn’t have strong emotions attached to the protagonist because he or she isn’t developed well, the conflict wont raise the stakes as much. Thus the overall satisfaction from the book will be low.
Links the plot, dialogue, theme and setting together
The character is an omnipresent entity. He or she links all other elements of fiction together. The character drives the plot, creates the dialogue, interacts with setting and reveals the overarching theme. It is also through the characters that these elements link with each other. The character says dialogues that drive the plot, s/he behaves particularly in a setting which also moves the plot, and the way a character reacts in a conversation reveals an overarching theme.
Makes the book stand out
Plots may not always be ingenious, nor are settings always unique. For example, most romance stories have typical plots – boy meets girl (or girl meets girl or boy meets boy) and they fall in love. Then circumstances separate them, leading to either a sad ending or a redemptive plot twist that gives a happy ending. But what makes the book stand out is who these characters are, how richly developed they are, how they change with circumstances and how real they are.
Allows the reader to make allusions to his/her own life
Characters are the most relatable elements of the story – the reader may not connect with anything else, but must relate to the characters. Not only does this make the reader more involved in the story, but also allows him to associate himself or herself with the story. This in turn makes the reader love the story more and remember it vividly. The character results in the story being impactful. If the character tanks, so does the story.