Does your character seem flat?

July 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm 4 comments

Think of your favorite books.  What makes those books so memorable to you? I’ll bet it’s the characters.

Select the main character from one of your favorite books and answer the following.  Even if the author doesn’t mention these specifics in the book, if the character is well-written, you should be able to guess at the answers:

  1. If the character had free time on their hands, what would they most likely be doing?
  2. If confronted by a bully, how would this character react?
  3. What is this character’s favorite subject in school? Favorite band? Favorite TV show? Best friend?

How did you find the information listed above?  Was it written into the story? Or maybe, the character’s traits, personality and unique quirks were so specific, you could make your own conclusions. This is a well-written character. 

So, when you’re writing your own short stories or novels, how do you create memorable, realistic characters? In a first draft, your characters may seem lifeless and flat.  Not sure?  Test it out:

First, give your story to someone else to read. Then, give them the list of questions above and see if they can come up with the correct answers. If they’re stuck, so are you. Your character needs more life, more details to flesh him out.

Come back all this week to get tips on “fleshing out” your characters.  Already have tips that would help others? Share them here!


Entry filed under: Advice, Ideas, Revision. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

5 Prompt Friday Wacky Wednesday


  • 1. alpinmack  |  July 6, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Good post. I think I’m getting there, but I still need more work. I had to rewrite one character because he was flat. I thought he would be a minor player but ended up being an important character so I had to add backstory and other things. Thanks for the reminder. Some of my fiction can be found on my blog.

    • 2. writerinspired  |  July 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm

      Thanks, alpinmack. Would you like to share some of your revision steps that made your character come alive?

  • 3. slgreatsuccess  |  July 6, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Flaws – you have to have flaws in characters. It is what makes them interesting.
    Like your blogsite by the way!

    • 4. writerinspired  |  July 6, 2009 at 11:35 pm

      Absolutely, slgreatsuccess! Writing flaws into characters is the best part!

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