Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Who Needs Cardboard?

Cardboard's flat, and  may come in handy for packing.
When it comes to book characters, it won't get you anywhere. Whatever you do, don't write a cardboard character. What's that, you ask. It's a one dimensional character, who doesn't seem real. Here are some ways to give your characters dimensions:
  1. Family - People don't come from nowhere. Offer some kind of information of a character's family, even if it's only the basics of whether or not he or she is the only sibling. To expand, you can throw in tidbits about the jobs, habits, good or bad qualities of family members. 
  2. Experiences - Unless your character is a newborn, he or she will have memories of the good and bad things which happened before the story begins. Dot in a few of those experiences here and there, but not too much, so readers can understand how and why your character thinks or behaves.
  3. Goal - There must be something your character is striving for, even if it's only to be left in peace. Offer hints about what your character wants.
  4. Emotions - In subtle or even obvious ways, show how your character reacts to various situations. An eye twitch, a furrowed brow, kicking something across the room, swearing, blinking back a tear, or outright sobs, are some ways to show your character has feelings.
  5. Health issue - Whether it be existing or brought about by the plot, you can easily slide in ways to make a reader worry about your character's well being. The possibilities here are endless. They can be something beyond that person's control, or not. Either way will work. A character may be an alcoholic, or maybe get drunk only once, but at exactly the most dangerous time in the plot. A character could get into an accident, even while completely sober, and suffer minor or catastrophic injuries. Or the character may overeat in times of stress, and is slightly overweight.  
  6. Hobby - You can easily include a hobby for your character, either one you enjoy, or one you wish you enjoyed. Joanna Campbell Slan uses scrapbooking in her books. Because of that, she gathers a huge audience of scrapbookers. A few other examples are stamp or coin collectors, attending garage, yard, and rummage sales. I'm sure you can come up with other ones that can round out your character, and as an added bonus, may also pull in specific hobbyists.
  7. Obsession - In large or small ways, your character absolutely craves something. It might be an unattainable person or object. It could be demanding perfect order in appearance or a dwelling. The opposite obsession could be slovenliness or hoarding. Or, a character could get caught up in gambling. Reading, watching TV, and movies, can also become small or large obsessions.
Can you think of other ways? Or, maybe you'd like to mention a multi-dimensional character in one of your own books or someone else's.

Find all of Morgan Mandel's romances and
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  1. You are so right, Morgan. Who needs cardboard characters when the pop-up kind are so much more fun! Every time I thought I had something to add, I checked your list and found it there under a slightly different guise. Good deal!

  2. Food they eat reveals much! and music they listen to. At least it is with my one character!

  3. Great additions to the list, Deb!