Quick Link: In the Flesh: Fleshing Out Flat Characters

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Janice Harding always has great advice. This time it is about how to change some less than memorable characters into more dynamic integral parts of the story.

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In the Flesh: Fleshing Out Flat Characters

Friday, June 10

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

The only flats in a story should be these or a tire.
The only flats in a story should be these or a tire.

This week’s Refresher Friday takes an updated look at fleshing out flat characters. Enjoy!

Characters play just as many roles in the writing process as they do in the novel itself. Some characters spark the very idea of the story, others show up when needed to suit plot, and others are doomed to life as nothing more than spear carriers. Most of the time, by the end of a first draft you’ll have too many, and some (if not all) will be flat as cardboard. Now’s the time to start bringing them to life.

Get Real, People

Characters will pop in and out as you write, even if you aren’t sure what to do with them or how they fit. After you’ve figured out which to keep and which to cut, you’ll likely want to develop them more and make them as rich and three dimensional as your main character. Or, you might be the type who prefers to flesh out everyone after the first draft is done and you see how the story unfolds.

Look at what role each character plays in the story. Not their “the protagonist’s best friend” type role, but a thematic role. For example, in my fantasy novel, The Shifter, Aylin is the voice of reason. She’s the practical one when Nya gears up to dive headfirst and full speed into something she believes in (she’s  a bit of an idealist). Knowing this, as I edited the draft I kept Aylin’s role in mind. Her style and behavior reflected her personality and role, both as the best friend, and as the voice of reason. Her actions also reinforced this.

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