Last week I talked about the plot fixer, now we’re tackling the weak character. I don’t mean someone who is weak themselves, I mean flat. A character that is flat or two dimensional is one that doesn’t have enough facets to convey the many parts of their personality, or one that’s just a walking stereotype.
Now, you can’t flesh out every character walking “on stage.” But your main and secondary characters (including the bad guy!) should definitely be. So for those characters, especially when you can’t tell one character from the others, try these questions to get to know your character better.
1. What’s character’s name, basic looks, profession, age, height, weight, body type, personal style?
2. Take the Myers Briggs Test as your character (I’ll say MC after this, but do this all for secondary characters too).
3. What’s MC’s life, personal and professional, ambitions? Or does she not know, or change her mind?
4. What’s MC’s goal in this story? What drives MC to stop the bad guy, solve the mystery, complete the quest? The ambitions in life can be fuzzy but the goal for the story can’t be. The goal can change as the situation does. But the overall story should have a goal. And every scene should have a goal.
5. What are MC’s values? This can include religious background but should be more than that.
6. What’s the most traumatic thing that happened to MC before the story starts?
7. What was MC’s childhood like?
8. What are MC’s strengths? You want them to be good at stuff so it’s believable when they win in the end.
9. What are MC’s weaknesses? Can’t be good at everything. You MC has to have things she just can’t do, is bad at, and doesn’t care to get better at.
10. Is MC optimistic, realistic, how does she view the world?
11. How does MC see others? Does she take everyone at face value or thinks everyone lies till proven truthful? Is she judgmental and notes details about people to deduce how to deal with them, or does she just roll with whatever others tell her?
12. How do others see the MC?
13. What does she like to eat and drink? Does she drink a lot of water or down sugar when she’s stressed?
14. What’s MC’s biggest disappointment in life so far?
15. What is MC scared of?
16. Who are the people/animals/things MC loves?
17. What does MC think she’d do if one of them was in danger?
18. What would MC actually do?
19. When in danger, human react with flight, fight or freeze; how does MC react?
20. What is MC’s formal training/background in academics, physical, sports, ect…?
21. What did MC do for her 21st bday?
22. What’s MC’s favorite sports team/designer/brand of car/something superficial and fun they care about?
23. What childhood or chronic illnesses has MC had? Allergy and mental disorders count.
24. Who and when was MC’s first love and how did it end?
25. If MC was an animal, what would she be?
26. How many loves and lovers has MC had and how does she view sex?
27. What does MC love the smell of?
28. What’s MC’s earliest childhood memory?
Alright, answer these and see how that translates into how your characters act and how you portray them.
Happy Writing 🙂