Characters are perhaps the most indispensable elements of books – they drive the story, enhance the setting, bring the theme out and create the perspective. If you nail a character, the audience is inevitably going to invest in your story, and will connect to it. Here is how to make characters multi-layered and fledge them out fully. These are advice to fledge out your characters in a way that endears them to the readers.
How To Make Characters Multi-layered And Fledge Them Out Fully?
- Give characters flaws and make them want things they don’t get
- Add intrigue
- Make characters conducive to empathy by making them believable
- Give characters unique quirks
- Write only about characters you can do justice to
- Give characters a backstory, no matter where the story begins
- Make characters have inaccurate perceptions of themselves
- Let the character’s trait be alternatively ‘good’ and ‘bad’
Give characters flaws and make them want things they don’t get
This is perhaps the simplest and most common tip ever, but it is not as straightforward as it sounds. In giving characters flaws, you need to look at their role in the story. The protagonist should have serious flaws that prevent him or her from getting what the want. And the antagonist should have redeeming factors that make the reader want them to get what they want, but only for a split second.
Intrigue in a story is when the readers are privy to some information that the protagonist is not. In Romeo and Juliet for instance, Romeo believes Juliet to be dead even when the audience knows she is alive. This adds to the level of pain and intensity the reader feels, and makes the reader connect and empathize with the character more.
Make characters conducive to empathy by making them believable
Characters cannot work unless they are relatable and conducive to empathy. What I mean by this is that, readers must imitate the potential mental activity of the characters in their own mindspaces for a story to work. The way to do this is to make them as real as possible, and to make them feel real emotions. Nothing in the work can be too unrealistic, even in a fantasy setting. No character can have a perfect life, with a perfect self-esteem and nothing that threatens them.
Give characters unique quirks
Another way to make characters believable is to give them quirks that may not be very relevant to the story, but make them look real. From anything like the habit of chewing on their lip to the quirk of excessively burping, quirks add a layer to characters. Readers resonate with them, and if not used excessively, quirks endear the character to the reader.
Write only about characters you can do justice to
It is very important to remember that no one can write characters they don’t understand. You need to be especially careful about writing characters of different genders, ages, races, ethnicities from you. This can result in obvious stereotyping and boxing of characters, which can make readers instantly disconnected. You then risk the story sounding too trite.
Give characters a backstory, no matter where the story begins
All characters, whether protagonists or antagonists, need to have a backstory to explain why they are the way they are. Not all flaws are inherited, some of them are consequences of an event to which the character adapts. Especially for antagonists, a strong motive is necessary to act as a scaffold to behaviour.
Make characters have inaccurate perceptions of themselves
A nice way to create intrigue is to make the characters have skewed perceptions of themselves. This also makes characters way more believable, because all of us necessarily distort information to fit our schemas about ourselves. So when you know a character to be selfless, but they fixate on one incident wherein they acted selfishly, you feel bad for them.
Let the character’s trait be alternatively ‘good’ and ‘bad’
To avoid getting typecast into a trait being objectively good or bad, it is nice to have a trait be ambiguous. When a trait solves a problem but also creates one, it just gives depth to the trait and hence to the character. It also prevents readers from predicting the outcomes of that trait, making the story more engaging and suspenseful.
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