Welcome back to Part 2 of my Editing 101 series. Last week I focused on The Big Picture, and created a one sentence summary of my novel. This week, I’m going to look at character development.

We all know that the best novels are ones in which the main character (or characters) develop and grow throughout the novel. Exactly how to achieve that is harder to work out. Sure, we can make our hero afraid of spiders, and then create a situation where he must face this fear (preferably in the form of a supersized monster of a spider) in order to achieve his goal. That’s a start.

I don’t know about you, but I like to see more depth in my character development. And one of the best way’s I’ve read to get more depth into your characters was described by Charmaine Clancy at Wagging Tales. The trick is to differentiate between what your characters want, and what they need. Go read the blog post I linked to, it’s well worth the trip.

Character wants and needs are not always the same thing, and the difference between these can provide conflict, and give you the important areas in which your characters need to grow.

For example, in Reckless Rescue, Tyris begins the novel wanting to win back his wife Milandra. Her walking out on him makes him determined to prove that he is worthy of her. But what he really needs, is to believe that someone can love him for who he is, no matter what others think of him.

Marlee, on the other hand, wants to be able to choose who she partners with, and how long that relationship lasts. She wants the situation around her to change. What she needs, is to gain the courage and self-confidence to stand up for herself and fight for what she believes in.

Looking at the characters in this way really helped clarify several important points in the story, and helped me see what I needed to include in the ending to make it satisfying.

Are your character’s wants and needs the same thing?