Making Nice Round Characters

By round I don’t mean fat. I mean characters with depth and intrigue, not cookie-cutter, boring, flat characters that are a dime a dozen. When going through my most recent round of edits, I realized that some of my minor characters fell more on the flat side of the scale. I needed to fix this problem ASAP.

You know what makes a good villain? Think about Voldemort, he’s a pretty atrocious guy, but you kind of feel bad for him sometimes (particularly in his youth). Instead of Rowling making him a straight up evil dude, she gave him some interesting qualities that make him more of a sympathetic character.

Well, I unfortunately had some of the “straight up evil dude” type characters lying around. So I had to re-invent them a bit. One of my characters seemed to have a laundry list of not-so-redeeming qualities:

  • bully
  • un-intelligent
  • misogynistic

So I set out to make him a little more likable. I transformed his misogyny and bullying into a mild case of shallowness and romantic feelings. Now he is that sort of annoying kid that has a major crush on you because you’ve got nice hair. Obviously, this is over simplifying his character, but now he is only mildly dislikable with sympathetic tendencies.

So if you find yourself with flat characters that are piling a list of one type of attributes, see which ones can be altered and use them to your advantage!

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6 thoughts on “Making Nice Round Characters

  1. This works nicely. Another one that I liked is the glass of water trick: asking what every character wants out of every scene, even if it’s just a glass of water. We’re all driven by our wants, and as soon as you start asking this question your 2D bad guys get chubby (rounded). We don’t always want world domination all the time, sometimes voldemort just wants a hug. Or cat videos. Or chamomile tea

  2. I think working on villains is one of the most interesting parts of writing. You have to work to get into their heads. You want them to be hatable, but at the same time, they have to be well-rounded and at least understood, if not pitied. It can be difficult to balance, but it really makes a book better. Thanks for sharing.

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