Have you ever read a book where the characters just seemed... lacking?
Yeah, me too. :(
Fortunately, this is easily fixable by creating a thought-out character profile BEFORE you start writing your book. This might not make pantsers (people who don't like to plot before they begin writing) happy, but I found this to be the best way to create three-dimensional characters.
Here are a few things that genuinely help me create strong, relatable characters!
If you want your readers to be able to picture your characters in their minds, including physical descriptors is key!
Think about your MC (Main character). Are they male or female or non-binary? How old are they? Are they fae, human, witch, or shifter? Are they tall or short? Skinny or thick? Muscular or lean? Conventionally attractive or ugly? What sort of voice do they have?
The possibilities are endless and go a long way toward developing a solid foundation for your characters.
Backstory and social life
Think about yourself and the people closest to you. You are all complex human beings, so your characters also need to be. Do your characters have trauma from their past that still haunts them? Have they led a sheltered life?
Let's consider their love life. Do they have one? Single, dating, or married? Do they have a family? What about parents or siblings? If they do have family, what is their relationship?
Religious and political beliefs are important to note as they can significantly impact many storylines. Are they active participants in their religion or any social groups? Where do they live? Do they have roommates or friends? How do they interact with the people they are associated with? Does your MC have a job?
What kind of style of clothing do they prefer to wear? Jeans and a t-shirt? Skirts and stilettos? Maybe they have a favorite food or color.
Is your character popular or an outcast? Are they shy, outgoing, nerdy, obnoxious, or sweet? Maybe they are clumsy or impatient, or pessimistic but call it realistic.
I know this sounds like a lot, but not all of these things need to be constantly brought up in your books.
More than one personality trait
All of us have at least one shy friend. But does that mean their entire personality is made up of that single trait?
Of course not!
Don't limit your characters to a rigid box. Maybe that shy friend gets super animated when discussing a particular topic, or your super outgoing friend becomes tongue-tied around their crush. Let your charcters surprise readers with unexpected quirks.
Your characters cannot always be straight-laced or outspoken.
Please, I beg of you, do not start your story off with your MC just existing, waiting for something to happen. They must have some sort of life before the inciting incident occurs. Maybe they have a job, or they are in school.
Try to establish their short-term and long-term goals, like real people have, before throwing it all to sh*t when the "story" begins! Now that you know more about creating well-developed characters, get that story started! Feel free to reach out if you need help! :)
CLICK HERE to download a free character profile :)