Kelly Abell Books

Writing Tips for Writers

Writing Tip #35 - Three Dimensional Characters

Posted on November 6, 2011 at 7:00 AM

I'm working on editing a few books and I just wanted to share some thoughts for aspiring writers. Take a look at your characters and make sure you make them three dimensional for your readers. Readers do not like flat characters. They want to know what makes your character tick. Sprinkle in some background, NOT too much at once, but as your character becomes involved in more situations throughout your plot, reveal things you want your reader to know. Are they afraid of spiders, a germophobe, wish they'd never moved to where they live now. Little things make a difference.

You can also accomplish a well rounded character through your dialogue. You can show emotions that make your character real and build their personality for your reader. When your character gets angry, what does he/she do? Stamp their feet, turn purple in the face, scream?? Or do they silently brood until they explode. Do they have a laugh like a donkey when they are extremely happy? You get the picture.

Another thing to remember is to make sure your character has purpose for their actions and that they are in sync with what is going on around them. Really stop and think about your characters motivation. What do they want? How are they going to get it? What obstacles will they face on their journey?

Don't make your reader suffer through a character with no pizazz and personality. Round them out and make them come alive. Breathe breath into them and help them jump off the page, grab your reader's hand and yank them right into the pages!

Other writers? How do you make your characters less flat? Please share.

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Reply P.L. Blair
11:42 AM on November 6, 2011 
Great tips, Kelly! You've pretty much covered what I do with the characters in my Portals fantasy/detective series ... and I especially like your admonition to "sprinkle in" the details rather than do everything in one huge information dump. I use my POV characters' thoughts to reveal not only information about them but about the other characters they're interacting with ...
I think of my characters as people I meet during the course of my work, and reveal them accordingly. You don't know everything about someone the first time you meet them. Information comes over time, as you hang out with that person and get to know him, or her, better.
Reply kellyabell
11:47 AM on November 6, 2011 
I love your approach Pat. It makes complete sense and I'm sure adds a great deal of realism to your characters. POV can be a great way to reveal information.