Every Sunday, the feature SHANNON MUIR’S MYSTERY OF CHARACTER on SHANNON MUIR’S THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF focuses on the art and craft of writing from Shannon’s perspective, or gives you insight on her process as an author.

This special run from February 11th through 14th is to give a taste into this regular Sunday feature.

This installment features Shannon looking into how the types of people a character surrounds him or herself with affects character development.

This is an expanded version of a past column that Shannon Muir did for a sister site. A character can be defined by other characters that are surrounding it. This doesn’t mean just the supporting cast of friends they have (or don’t have); the characteristics of those folks and how they work with the character in question goes a long way to identifying aspects of the character in question. Are the connections built on common bonds? Is the character in question just using other characters; if so, what do they gain by doing so and how does it reflect on the character?

Also, antagonists that a character faces also help mold this definition of who the character is. What are the reasons that create conflict between the character and the antagonists? How easy or difficult would resolution be for them?

Are there ways you can see that the story you are writing (or reading) would radically be altered in terms of how the main character handled things if a character behaved differently? What if a certain character were absent entirely?

Think about these the next time you read or write and challenge yourself.