The Crew 

The Characters of Steel Fear, Part 6

John David Mann


This seven-part series takes a behind-the-scenes look at the cast of characters in the military thriller Steel Fear, co-authored by John David Mann and SOFREP founder Brandon Webb, and explores the process of conceiving them and bringing them to life on the page. You can find the first part of this series here.

In interviews and podcasts on Steel Fear, I’ve gotten this question a handful of times: “How do you make your characters come to life—even the minor ones?” It’s a great question, though the truth is, there’s no such thing as a “minor character.” There are characters that come to life and characters that lie flat on the page. That’s it. 

So how do you bring someone to life on the page? You start writing them and pay attention. You write them until you start feeling what they feel until they become real to the point that you actually care about what happens to them. And I think that happens by paying attention to the little things—the things that might not seem significant to the story but speak volumes about who each individual is. 

It’s like that in relationships. You notice what your partner wants and needs, likes and loves. You notice their favorite colors, movies, books, foods. Things to do at night. Shows to watch, books to read, places to sit, places to walk. You notice things—specific things, things others might not see. Authentic caring is in the specifics.

That’s the secret to bringing a relationship and a character to life. You pay attention. You notice them.