Creating multi-dimensional characters is all about change. Think about yourself at this time last year. Were you the same as you are now?
Let’s hope not.
You’ve probably had countless experiences since then that have changed you, forced you to grow, taught you new lessons and, perhaps, left you a little wiser.
Writing good believable characters is less about making them good or bad, and more about making them real, personable and believable. We all have faults. We all have things we wish we hadn’t said or actions we wish we could do differently. But we also have really kick-ass shining moments and times where we rose to the occasion more than we thought we could.
Your job as a writer is to push your characters toward bigger and bigger moments of change. Note: This is very different than pushing them toward moments of big action, which is also important. The Moment of Action might be the big battle in the war. The Moment of Change is a split-second battlefield decision of life and death…and how your character lives with that decision in the quiet that comes after the battle itself.
Everyone has a different method for getting to know their characters. I like asking questions. Here are some of the ones I’ve considered while daydreaming about my characters:
- What has been your character’s most defining moment up to this point in life? How does it still affect him or her?
- What would your character never do? How can you make them do that? What is the price?
- What are your favorite aspects of your character?
- What are your least favorite aspects of your character? (Hint: You SHOULD have a list of these)
- What are your character’s flaws?
- Find places for your character to make a mistake or be wrong about something. How do they react?