When creating characters for your story it’s important to be sure they don’t come across as one dimensional, but rather have several dimensions to their personality. Why? It’s more interesting and relatable to the readers of your story. There are numerous techniques you can use to accomplish this and here are a few suggestions.
1. Appearance – the physical description of your characters is an essential element to ground the reader and have them begin to care about your character. Find a photo or several of what you think your characters look like. This will aid in you being consistent and help provide a strong visual for your reader. Give enough information about how they look, what they wear, the state of their clothes, their hair, or how they smell like to themselves or to others. Be careful to not bog your story down with too many details, just enough to leave them with a sense of who your characters are and how they appear to themselves and others.
2. Movement – the way your characters interact with their physical world can say a lot about them. Do they slide the chair back to stand up or push it hard with the back of their knees so it falls to the floor? Do they stomp when they walk or glide? Putting in these actions in a natural way to show how they act within their environment, in situations and with other characters not only gives the reader a great mental image of your characters but also a deeper understanding of them and their desires.
3. Dialogue – what your characters say to each other or to themselves and how they respond to other characters says a great deal about them. Their interactions can illustrate conflict, reveal attitudes, show fears or expose their motivations. Using dialogue is an effective way to show the character’s personality and how they affect the plot. Do they manipulate others or are they being manipulated? Is their world view innocent or hardened by life? This and a great deal more can be gained by what your characters say to one other and how they say it.
4. Thoughts – whether you have one character or multiple characters as your point of view, using their inner thoughts to demonstrate how they really feel or how they think they feel about events, other characters or their personal fears or prejudices can be very effective. What your character thinks about or even obsesses over discloses important parts of their character that the other characters might or might not be aware of. This can provide a foundation for the choices they make later in the story when others might assume they’ll act one way but choose to do the opposite.
Creating dimension for your main characters brings them to life for your readers, which is why it is so important that you start with a solid understanding of who they are before you write. Develop your own character board that you can refer to and look at as often as you can to develop strong, identifiable characters your reader will not soon forget.