Giving Characters Depth

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Depth is more than backstory. It is who your character is. And it made me wonder whether I know my characters well enough.

1. Are you friends with your protagonist?

Would you get along? Do you think it’s important to be able to get along with your own characters – especially your protagonist?

2. What qualifies you to write this character?

How would you feel if someone turned you into a character? How would you think you should be portrayed? Respect your character by knowing enough about him or her so that you can accurately communicate his intentions and motivation, his feelings, and his flaws. He might act like a jerk, but he may have a very good reason for it. Show his reasons to your readers, and he will become more likable – even relatable.

Any thoughts on this? I tend to write really jerky, obnoxious characters. Personally, I don’t mind them and I also don’t mind reading stories with jerky characters (you know, unless they’re constantly making one stupid decision after another); but some people are very picky about likable and relatable characters. Share your wisdom in the comments! 

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7 responses »

  1. A lot of the time I don’t really start to understand my characters until I start writing their dialogue and it all seems to build from there. I usual have a nice/ok one that plays off a meaner one (who always seems to be overly sarcastic).

    I like the second point though. If you’re going to portray characters in a bad light, there needs to be some reasoning behind it otherwise you end up with a flat character only there to be a jerk. Gives them a little more rather than just being the scapegoat. But that’s just my opinion, everyone writers differently!

    • I wouldn’t say that I’d necessarily get along with my characters. I learn more about them and get to know them better over time, and I learn to understand them – but friends? Not so much.
      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  2. I try to cover all the bases with my characters. Some are aloof, some are overly friendly. I’m trying to write one now who is a brutal thug, and yet has a personal code that makes readers like him. It’s going to be tricky.

  3. Wonderful advice.
    I usually find my main POV’s relatable to my liking. I’ve only just recently started exploring with my main characters personalities being on the difficult side.

    • I love discovering new things about my characters, and especially those wonderful moments when the pieces come together and everything makes so much more sense.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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