Give Your Characters Dimension . . .
Let’s talk a little about characters today and why some are one-dimensional, two-dimensional and three-dimensional.
Have you ever read a review where the reviewer points to *shallow* characters in the novel? I know I have, and that’s why I feel it’s so important for writers to allot their characters depth. So what is depth, and what do you mean by “dimensional” characters?
It’s crucial readers understand who the characters are; what makes them tic, and particularly what the character’s identifying features are? I’m not necessarily talking about physical features, but consistency and manner of speech, body language and internal thoughts on how he/she views the world. A character is not merely a gorgeous person with eyes of blue. He/she is a composition of many events that has made him/her what they are today.
Their emotions are multifaceted and often conflicting. They could come from troubled backgrounds or perhaps were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Whatever the case, in order for readers to understand and relate to your characters, writers need to delve into their history to make them likeable and real (or not so likeable in the villain’s case). It’s also important the readers believe, and can picture, the character existing before your story even began, thus the history.
Shallow characters (one-dimensional) have no real story, no identifying aspects to their personality. They’re merely walk-ons in your novel and won’t make lasting impressions. Readers will soon get bored with reading about someone they can’t identify with or like, and will no doubt put the book down. This is the last thing we want them to do.
Two-dimensional characters might have one identifying trait or a smidgeon of history, but why stop there? Write your characters as if they are a person you’d love to know, in fact, you’re so fascinated by their thoughts about life, their opinions, you long to know everything about them, including their past.
If your hero or heroine lacks depth or dimension, reviewers/readers might refer to them as *cardboard characters* another term you want to avoid at all costs. This means they’re typical ordinary, forgettable people or par for the course in motives and goals. While writing about them, you might have hinted about a like or dislike they possess, but there you stopped, leaving the thought underdeveloped without explaining why they dislike the color purple or why the adore women in hats. What’s the history behind their abhorrence, fetish or passion?
One of the great things about writing is that you, the author, have control over the portrayals of your characters. Make them bigger than life; exaggerate their habits, annoyances, likes and dislikes. Make every aspect about them memorable in the reader’s mind.
Here’s a very short example of revealing something about the character’s background by subtly weaving it into dialogue. This is from my series, Crossroads and is contained in Crossroads Revisited (Phaze Publishing: Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Crossroads-Book-1-ebook/dp/B004S6WGAE/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&qid=1300456803&sr=8-23)
Here, one of the main characters, Rand, is having a conversation with his college professor about his lack of attentiveness in class. We learn that Rand’s dependence on his older lover, Frank McGuire, stems at least in part because he misses his father.
The professor’s tone softened. “Does your mother have a husband, Mr. Brennan? Perhaps I should speak to your father about your latent distractions and boredom in class. I’m certain he’d want to know how his money is frittered away.”
“Not anymore.” Flashbacks of Rand’s father rose behind his eyelids and tears surfaced. He fought them back and looked into Professor McBride’s eyes. “He died about six years ago, shot during a bank robbery.”
The man stilled and studied him.
You won’t regret giving a little dimension to your characters’ personalities.
Here’s an excellent article from The Writing Tools Blogspot about Writing Character Bios for your stories. Why don’t you try it? http://thewritingtools.blogspot.com/2009/07/character-bios-why-and-how.html
Happy writing and reading! Keta
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Keta’s latest release, Where The Rain Is Made (a paranormal shifter) was recently nominated for a Bookie Award by Authors After Dark. You can read the reviews for Where The Rain Is Made here: http://amzn.to/gB2cUR
She writes for Amber Quill Press, Decadent Publishing, Phaze Publishing, Noble Romance and has recently branched off into INDIE publishing.
Keta’s Erotic Romance Blog: http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com
Keta’s Gay Fiction Blog: http://thestuffofmythandmen.blogspot.com
Keta’s Author Home: http://www.ketadiablo.com
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