There are many intricate webs of what character development entails, but how much thought should go into a how a character was raised? From a development standpoint, it’s more than you will tell the reader. However, the way a person (or in this case a character), is raised plays a large part in who they become. Without getting into the nature vs. nurture debate there are a few things that will shape the personality and experiences of a character that can be explored through how they were raised. There are many things to consider when looking at a character’s childhood. This post will examine economic status, family structure, and moral/political views (without getting political).
Economic status has its own influencing factors on character development. They are influenced by some of the following:
- How many parents are providing for the family?
- Does the family live in the country or the city?
- Is the family in poverty or are they wealthy?
- What do the providers of the family do for a living?
This economic status will play into things such as education and the group of friends they have in school. It will also be a contributing factor to such things as whether a character went to a private or public school. Their economic status may also be influenced by the family structure of the family in general.
Family structures consist of the number of parents raising a child, any other siblings, or extended family that also interacts with the character. This does not mean they all have to live under the same roof.
- Is this a single family household or a two parent household?
- How many siblings does the character have?
- What is the birth order of the children?
These are all important questions that may lead to a character’s role in the story. This will be much deeper than simple protagonist/antagonist roles. What leads them to be shaped into the following:
- The nurturer
- The protector
- The one always finding trouble
- The sweet girl next door
There are more roles than those listed above, but how they get along with their family structure is likely to shape their role as well as their view on the world.
Not everyone views the world through a religious or political lens (or even the lack thereof). Without touching on these sore subjects, just like everyone has a view of the world, the character does too. This view may not necessary align with yours but let them embrace these views and make your character relatable. You don’t have to mention which side of the political fence they fall on to get the point across how your character feels on a certain event. Though this may be one of the reasons they feel strongly about a certain series of events.
Characters like everyone have a life that is theirs. Let this life embrace your readers. After all engagement with readers is an absolute must, as this is what a reader is seeking when reading a piece of fiction. What other parts of a character’s family do you think about when developing a character? Let me know down below!