Character development is crucial to creating a good story, unless your goal is to have flat characters who don’t appeal to your readers. Learning how to develop a character can be tricky, which is part of the reason writers are always encouraged to read, read, read as part of learning the craft of writing.
Reading, however, is not the only way to witness or even experience how other authors develop characters. TV shows often have excellent character development over the run of a series. A recent example that comes to mind is a new show on CBS, Elementary, a show about a modern-day Sherlock Holmes and his side-kick Watson.
In this series, Watson is played by actress Lucy Liu, a slight divergence from the traditional British male Watson we know from the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Though the series has only a handful of shows under its belt to date, Lucy Liu’s character Watson has already shown much growth.
In the first few episodes, we are given insight into who Watson is, all while she is learning how Holmes gleans clues from what would otherwise appear to be meaningless and arbitrary facts. By the third or fourth episode, we already see Watson learning to apply some of Holmes’ methods in deductive reasoning. I believe we shall see the character continue to grow in both her understanding and respect for Holmes as the series matures.
Watch the ‘baby steps’ this character makes over time, and you will likely witness a subtle but solid growth of the character. You may even gain insight into how to help the characters in your stories grow.