Do Your Characters Have Character?

fiction-writing-rule-3-create-dimensional-charactersI’ve just completed the God knows what number revision of my novel(I lost count a long time ago). While I have to admit it is one-hundred times better than the first draft, it is still not where it needs to be.

I hope this isn’t coming across too negative. To be honest, while I’m not where I want to be, I’m a lot closer than I use to be, and from my way of thinking, I have a cake that needs to be iced. My icing is a mixture of character development and imagery.

I made a comment not too long ago that my characters were just too good. Nobody’s that perfect. So I did some research on character development to find out what I needed to do to rough them up and give them some dimension.

There are actually three dimensions of  character development. I’ve used them all at times, but never made a concerted effort to  put them all together in one particular character until now. Yeah, I seem to do everything the hard way. Comes from inexperience.

So what are the three dimensions I’m working on?

The first dimension is surface traits, quirks and habits.

This one is easy. We all know we’re suppose to describe our characters and help the reader picture them in their mind.  Is their hair blonde, red or brown.  Do they have blue eyes, green eyes or brown eyes. What about that annoying mole on the chin that makes you think of a witch.

Maybe they have an annoying laugh, or have a nervous habit of tapping their left foot up and down. I play with paper clips when I’m the lead in a group meeting. It calms my nerves.

These are all things you can see, when you look at the person.

The second dimension is backstory and inner demons.

Backstory allows us to see where they came from, and why they act the way they do. We see the scars, the memories, and the dashed dreams that leave them with resentment, fear, and weakness.

We understand where they came from so we can empathize with them and form an emotional attachment.

The third dimension is action, behavior, and world view.

This dimension looks at moral substance or lack thereof. It’s defined not by backstory or inner demons, but by actions and behaviors.

A hero takes a stand, takes risks, and makes decisions.

A villain rationalizes behavior and is insensitive. He refuses to take responsibility.

As a story teller, it is your job to integrate all three realms of character development convincingly and compellingly. Nobody wants to read a story with one dimensional or shallow characters.

What’s your thoughts? Any suggestions or tips that might help me flesh out my characters during this revision?

-Jan R

Do Your Characters Have Character?

8 thoughts on “Do Your Characters Have Character?

  1. Thank you for these awesome tips! I’ve had some major problems with my characters and I think this post really helped. The funny thing is though, the first point may seem easy to you, but hard for me. It’s actually what I’m struggling to do with my own characters!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice sum up! I’ve found that it’s also important to consider HOW the information is presented- avoiding blocks of text and info dumps, but weaving the details into the story. Not that I’ve mastered doing this…;) I laughed at your uncountable number of revisions- I am RIGHT there with ya!

    Liked by 1 person

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