Well-Rounded Characters

Characters are an essential part of every piece of fiction. Without characters, there is no story. But just slapping some characters into a story just won’t cut it.

Characters need to have depth, they need to be more than a paper cutout or a stereotype.

I was listening to a podcast the other day, Writing Excuses, and they talked about using a 3 slider system to create characters and express their development over the course of a novel or series. Proactivity, Competence and Sympathy.

In the podcast, they discussed how adjusting each slider had an affect on the likability and depth of the characters. A character who is completely competent, very proactive, and very sympathetic makes for a rather flat character, as does a character who is on the opposite end of the spectrum.

For myself, building a well rounded character includes creating a person, complete with all of the complexities that entails. People have skills and talents, but they also have flaws and failings.

When I’m reading, I look for the same thing. One of the reasons that I’ve grown kind of tired of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber is that his titular character has few, if any, flaws. She’s nearly a perfect character. She didn’t used to be that way, but as the series developed, the main character has become a superwoman of sorts. Able to overcome the most difficult obstacles and nearly untouchable by her foes.

Are there any characters that you’ve moved away from because they stopped being real? What do you look for in a well rounded character?


One comment on “Well-Rounded Characters

  1. I do like realistic characters, those that have flaws and can’t overcome everything. I don’t tend to read series, so I haven’t found any characters that have lost that, but I can see why it might happen.

    Great post!

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