By: The Fictorians
We’ve all heard the criticism: “Your characters are flat” or “One-dimensional” “Make them deeper, more rounded.”
The problem is, most of the time the people offering that vague advice have no concrete suggestions for fixing the problem. Many newer authors often fall into the trap of trying to add quirks or other surface affectations to try to make the characters appear ‘interesting’. Quirks can be cool, but only if they tie into the character’s real psyche. If not, they’re just weird and don’t help.
In my last post, I explored what it means to have deeper, more complex characters by utilizing Larry Brooks’ three dimensions approach to character development. Today I want to explore additional examples from books and television to highlight what we mean when we say a character has ‘depth’ or is ‘complex’.
First, we need to know our characters, know them better than we know just about anyone else in our life. Think about it – most of the people we interact with are enigmas. We know their surface personalities, and we may know a little about their history, but how many people do we know well enough to imagine them in an extremely difficult situation like the ones we’re going to place our protagonists in, and then feel confident we can predict how they’ll react? The number is probably smaller than we usually assume. We can’t have that ambiguity with our main characters. When we place them in extreme situations, we need to know how they’re going to respond.
Many of the ‘flat’ characters we see are ones where they don’t seem to have a history. They step onto the page with no back-story, no childhood, no past mistakes or triumphs to be reminded about. As a result, we only see the surface of a character but get no insights into why or how they reached that stage in life. These are characters with only that first dimension defined. Fine for secondary characters, but not for central characters.
For example . . .
Read the full article HERE!
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