Whether characters or plots are more important to successful fiction remains a topic of debate. No matter which side you favor, characters are important in writing, and a poorly developed character can ruin an otherwise good story. We have a number of threads on how to develop successful characters. I'd like to open the floor for discussion on how you, wearing the hat of a reviewer, decide whether the character development has been successful. To start off, one thing I often do is write down, or just think about, how I would describe the character in question. Do I have a clear picture of him or her? Does the personality come through for me? Does the character remind me of people I know? Does the character change in a credible way, if at all, over the course of the story? Does the character have depth? Register to remove this ad Then, with these thoughts in mind, I go back over the story to see how much of the this profile is explicitly told, how much is implied indirectly, and how much is supplied by my own imagination. I give extra approval for characteristics either provided indirectly or evoked in my imagination. Of course, not all characters need to be highly developed, not even main characters. Sometimes their presence at the right place and time is all the story requires, and even a main character may be the catalyst for events rather than an intrinsic point of interest. But knowing where the character exists in the development space is a necessary first step in evaluating his or her role in the story.