Thursday, June 27, 2013

Characters by Linda Seger

One-dimensional characters are plain, simple and unexplained.  Readers or viewers briefly “see” one-dimensional characters but these characters do not speak. The one-dimensional characters are usually cashiers, salespeople, drivers, servers, nurses, joggers, or the person walking down the street pushing a stroller.
Two-dimensional characters are similar to one-dimensional characters except two-dimensional characters use speech or gestures to react to what is going on around them  Still, two-dimensional characters are undeveloped and lack explanation, reason and depth.  Two-dimensional character reactions and interactions are often brief, but not always. A character may be present the majority of the time, but when s/he lacks history/backstory and complexity, the character is two-dimensional.
An effective, well-rounded, believable fictional character usually has three dimensions:
  • thoughts
  • emotions; and
  • actions.
In screenwriting, the three dimensions are frequently described as:
  • physiology;
  • sociology; and
  • psychology.
Three-dimensional characters have goals, ambitions, desires, motivating forces, fears and values.  In addition, they have habits, mannerisms, cultural tendencies and styles that are audible or visible to others.  In other words, a 3-D character has an inside and an outside.
Flat, misused or poorly developed characters are the best way to lose reader interest.  Here are some tips for creating three-dimensional characters:

A fully developed character has three dimensions:

 1) Thoughts, 2) Emotions, and 3) Actions.

A good character thinks, feels, and does things. A "character type" does only one of the three.

Think of a brainy professor character who thinks, but never shows emotion and never does anything. He's a character type. Think of a grieving widow - all emotion, no thoughts, and no actions. Think of a tough cop - all action, no thoughts, and no emotions. All are character types. All are incomplete characters. All are boring stereotypes