Monday, September 19, 2011

Three Dimensional Characters

Has anyone ever told you that your characters were flat, like paper dolls? My critique group is great at helping me see that my protagonist needs feelings. I have to get in their head and figure out what’s going on with them.
I think I already mentioned the Kathleen Duey, in her workshop at an SCBWI said that she interviews her characters thoroughly before writing the story. She said that you don’t just list their likes and dislikes, you get into their head and figure out what their inner most thoughts and feelings are.
Sometimes it takes me a while to get to know my characters. They need to become my friends—tell me what they think and let me know how they would act.
Larry Brooks, in his “Story Engineering” defines character this way:
First Dimensional characters, simply exists.  He may choose his or her car, etc, but no meaning is assigned to his choices.
Second Dimensional characters let us know the reasons for their choices. We may learn the back story and agenda of the person.
Third Dimensional characters become “subordinate to more important choices and behaviors made when greater weight and consequences are at stake.” In other words, the protagonist becomes a ‘real’ person or an actor in his story.
I love this concept. I’m probably not very good at writing it yet, but I’m trying.
How have you made your characters three dimensional?


Dawn Ius said...

I understand the "need" for three-dimensional characters and am working on it, but I think it takes time...and I'm still putting in the time :-) Great post. And a wonderful reminder.

Stephsco said...

I've heard of the interviewing technique. It sounds like it would lead to interesting character developments and could even be fun. I'll have to try it.

Linda Garner said...

I love this, Christy. I need to get to know my characters. Love, LG