There are many good articles on the internet on how to develop your characters if you're not sure.
I have an outline I use, and one of the most important questions on it is what is the character's zodiac sign? Yes, that's what I said, I use the Western Zodiac to help define my character, and I build from there.
Meet one of my minor characters, Tillie Duff. When I came up with the idea of Tillie, I looked for a strong atrological sign and decided Tillie is a Sagitarius. Here are some basic attributes of a Sagittarian:
Optimistic Overly optimistic
Craves freedom Restless
People person Takes people/things for granted
Charming Lacks tact
Friendly, talkative Outspoken
Of course, there are more traits, but these alone help me to build my character. Tillie is from one of the oldest and wealthiest families in England. When she became of age, she received her share of the money and promptly moved to a small village about an hour's drive away. Sh's very attached to her family and sees them often, but she had to exert her freedom and head into her own adventure.
Known by anyone as the quirkiest of the Duffs, you never know what Tillie is going to say or do. Although she is a people person and has many friends, she can be quite tactless, especially if angered. And she has a quick temper that flares immediately. When she is through being angry, she goes back to being her fun loving self.
The above would give anyone a fair idea of Tillie. Quite the looker in her younger days, we meet her in my novel 'Always' when she is in her 50's. Don't let her age fool you, she is high-spirited and high maintenance. Her fortune is gone. No one other than Tillie knows why, and it's not until later in the book that we discover the answer. Tillie takes pride in everything she does, and she keeps no secrets, except where her money went.
Tillie is single, so she has no children. Every summer she has her great-niece, April from the States stay with her. Best not hurt April in any way, or you'll answer to Tillie. Well, Tillie is specific who she likes and who she doesn't like, so don't hurt anyone she adores. She'll help you hurt the other group by providing you with some witty insults.
Tillie has a habit of slamming her hand down hard on a table when she wants to make a point. This trait came from my step-mother, Ellie, who always slammed her hand down on a table. Everyone jumped, but she didn't notice. Ellie also spoke loudly, and so does Tillie. I gave Tillie these traits to honor my step-mother. Look how great character development can be? It can allow you to preserve personalities through your writing.
Tillie isn't the greatest cook in the world, but one thing that she bakes is delicious. And that's her gingerbread. When I was a child, I fell in love with gingerbread. In the fall and winter months, it's perfect for serving in any form. Gingerbread takes many ingredients. Among them, molasses and spices like clove, ginger, cinnamon, and or nutmeg. I call these the warming spices because their taste is so strong, it seems to warm you on cold days. And this is where I got the idea for Tillie. She always has gingerbread ready for anyone who happens to drop by. She sends April back to the States with a package of gingerbread every time, and she makes sure to send more as needed.
As I say, nothing baked says love like soft gingerbread.
“I look forward to seeing your Aunt Tillie. I never know what she will say.”
“Great.” Dixon grabbed a slice and sat back down. “Who doesn’t like Aunt Tillie’s gingerbread?”
“Here, Dixon, a second cup of Aunt Tillie’s tea is more suited to you.” Simon gave Dixon a warning look.
Dixon smirked at Simon with a twinkle in his eye. “No thanks. Aunt Tillie added a strong dose of brandy to yours.”
“Aye, I did. Will shake out whatever’s in you, it will. It’s my ‘special flavoring.’”
“She begged me. Seems to be important to her. Aunt Tillie took her side, reminding me that you need to find a spouse and you seem incapable of doing so. She reckons you’re feeble and shouldn’t be alone. And I wouldn’t presume to disagree with Aunt Tillie.”
The Duffs had built their home on a foundation of happiness and love, and you could count on Duffy or Aunt Tillie to manage the funniest things.
“Sweet lady. Crazy she is, and kind to a fault, and I can’t help but admire her. I have on occasion gone by to see how she gets along. I must look at every album she has before she will let me leave. It seems that “Duff love” overflows onto those around them.”
“We are honored with the number of our friends and relatives who are here to attend this blessed event.”
Aunt Tillie yelled, “I came for the wine.”
Laughter rippled around the room.
Cary looked at Simon, surprised. Neither Simon nor any of the Duffs spoke, except for Aunt Tillie. She raised her glass to Steven and rather loudly toasted, “To our newest family member, Mr. Rude Bastard.” Then she took a sip, followed by April and Telulla who both chimed, “Here, here.”
“All I know is what Dad answered whenever we asked a question about her. ‘Tillie is Tillie.’ I now understand what it means."
“That’s the ticket, my dear. We’ll invite Dixie over to my house to teach you how to pinch real good.” Aunt Tillie looked at Steven. “You can tag along. We need a practice dummy.”
“I’ll stay here,” said Aunt Tillie, “and keep the liquor company.”
Uncle Dixon had sent a brief note. He reminded her that Aunt Tillie wanted to head to the States to teach her boxing or pinching.
“I’ll repeat ‘your Dieu’ and throw in ‘my God.’” Shouted Aunt Tillie.
I still remember his fight with his aunt. He told her to go pretend to play bridge to get away from you, and he will watch over you like she should have been doing. She moved so fast. She chased him outside with her broom, smacking him.”
April nodded. “I remember. I didn’t know Aunt Tillie could run so fast.”
There's plenty of other Tillie surprises in my novel, As you can see, Tillie is one of my favorite characters, who manages to outshine anyone and usually brings a lot of humor with her.
What are some ways that you develop your characters?
LHR, and let's PAWS for Success.