10 Easy Ways to Create 3-D Characters

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about writing tips, but it’s something that I really love to do. Today, I thought I would share with you some ways to create three dimensional and realistic characters for your story. This post is mostly for beginners or people looking to hone their craft, but pro’s might find it helpful too.

  1. Know your creation–and I mean, know everything about them. Their favorite color, favorite food, when they popped their cherry and how they feel about politics (if they even care). Not all of this information will be pertinent to your story and so all of it won’t be needed in the manuscript. But, the more you know about your character, the more capable you will be of introducing that person to your readers.
  2. Character Profile Sheet--If you haven’t created one already, fill out a character profile sheet like the one found here. This will definitely help with step #1. Keep this as a reference while writing or during revisions.
  3. Everybody has a past–even your fictional characters. I hate opening a book and feeling like the character never existed before the opening lines. Maybe they have some glimmer of a past, but you don’t feel like it was real.  I like to feel like I’m picking up in the middle of a character’s life or at an important moment in the course of their life, not at some random point when the person happened to be created. Everybody has a past, so make sure your character has one, too. This could be a scandalous past or a meek one, it’s up to you–as long as it feels like it happened.
  4. Pick a model–find a picture of someone you think looks like your character. It could be an actor or friend or model. Study this image and come up with different ways to describe the person’s features. (This is particularly helpful when writing romance, since romance readers love elaborate descriptions.) This will help you create a visual picture in the mind of your readers.
  5. Trivia Quizzes–get together with a trusted friend or relative who knows your story and do a trivia quiz. Asking each other questions back and forth will help you retain knowledge of your character’s stats. **It may be helpful to keep an answer key on hand, just in case.
  6. Lather, rinse and repeat–While it may seem tedious, repeat these exercises for all main characters in your book. If the book is a romance, do it for the hero and the heroine (and their villain, if any). If it’s a book about friends, do this for each friend.
  7. Character Interview–If you’re still having trouble gaining knowledge on your character, try doing an interview with them. Come up with some questions or Google some premade sheets. I’ve done this a few times and found it to be helpful, and at the very least, entertaining. This is also a great way to identify your character’s unique voice so you can incorporate that into your manuscript.
  8. Motivation–Everybody wants something and your characters should, too. Identify what your character wants, and why they do the things they do. For example, in my new release Another Life, the protagonist Cameron is desperate to keep her secrets buried. Identifying what she was hiding and why was a major obstacle in writing the book, but without it the story made no sense. What drives your characters will drive your plot forward as well, and without a clear-cut motivation, your story could fall apart. Dig deep and ask yourself “What does (name) want most right now?” Do this for all key players in your story.
  9. Obstacle–A person’s strength isn’t shown until they’ve struggled, and the same goes for characters. Now that you know what your people want, come up with ways to keep them from getting it. Is there that one person or one event that could mean total ruin for your character’s dreams? In Another Life, it’s Cameron’s ex, Julian. He’s the last person she ever wanted to see again, because he used to be her most trusted confidant and now that she’s kicked him to the curb, he has no reason to keep his mouth shut. For a character whose peace-of-mind hinges on secrecy, this adds up to disaster. What is it that will be your character’s downfall? Why is this the worst possible thing that could happen to them?
  10. Triumph–What is the point in watching someone struggle, if it isn’t to see how they triumph? For Cameron, the solution turns out to be something as simple as being honest, but her moment of triumph will never come until she has the strength to do that. What inner-battles do your characters struggle with and how will they win the fight? Or, if your major obstacle is another person, how does your main character finally take the villain’s power away? This moment of triumph is your chance to leave a lasting impression on your readers. This will be one of the things they think about when they remember why they loved your book. Make it epic–it’s your chance to shine.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Do you have any questions about writing? Ideas for future posts? I’d love to hear them! If you enjoyed this post, please follow me on twitter or check out my amazon author page.

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