Characters in Flux: Making ‘em Multi-dimensional

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?


  1. I'm bookmarking this because that checklist is fantastic :D I especially love the second point.

  2. I got a mention in someone's blog post, this makes me happy :) Glad you found my post erm inspirational (god that was a bad pun!).
    Loving this post, that checklist is awesome! Character development is always something of a challeneg for me, so this is really helpful :)

    1. It was a fantastic idea, and one I love talking about, so I'm really glad you mentioned it.

  3. That's an awesome checklist! Definitely keeping this post in mind. And I love me some Tristan.

  4. I totally agree. Stories are about transformation. I liked what you said about pushing your character towards bigger and bigger moments of change. They start the story one way and by the end of the book they are completely different.

    Giving a character faults can seem so hard at times, but everyone has flaws, and everyone has problems they are facing. No one is perfect, so characters shouldn't be either :)

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts.