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How to Improve Flat Characters


If you’re having trouble making your characters interesting or you feel like all your characters turn out the same, you’re probably creating flat characters. If your character hasn’t undergone a significant change during the course of your novel or your audience is having trouble relating to them, you need find ways to improve this. It’s important to remember that all your characters need to have goals, no matter how small, and they need to be actively working toward those goals to stay interesting.

Your protagonist should be relatable and realistic. Even if your readers don’t necessarily agree with what they’re doing, they should be able to feel what your protagonist is going through. This is your job as a writer. You need to get your readers to understand their thought process or what they’re going through, even if they’ve never experienced it themselves. This can be achieved by using real-life emotions in your story, so it’s important you don’t ignore the emotional aspects of storytelling. Most people will understand love, fear, sadness, happiness—EVEN if they’ve never been in the situation your protagonist is in.

One of the most important things to remember is that your character’s actions should remain realistic. And I don’t mean that they need to do things only we can do in our world, but their actions need to stay true to their world. Their actions should make sense in context to what they’re going through.

Your protagonist should also be a problem solver and proactive. A character with good morals will have integrity, but we all know not all main character have good intentions. However, all protagonists should be able to do things on their own, or else they’re going to be a weak protagonist. I’m not saying they don’t need help, but they need to overcome the big challenges on their own. They can’t just stand around waiting for everyone else to finish things. They need to take initiative at some point, and this should be due to their personal growth throughout the story.

Here are some tips on improving flat characters:

Focus on primary traits, complexity traits, and character flaws.

Primary traits: Every character you write should have primary traits. These are things like smart, funny, inquisitive, etc. These aren’t necessarily anything deep, but they give the reader enough to understand what sort of category or archetype that character fits in.

Complexity traits: Adding complexity traits will be what adds more depth to your characters, and will make your characters interesting. This is necessary if you are building lead characters/main characters. With complexity traits, you plan out the primary traits with more detail. For example, if your character is smart explain what he or she is smart in. Does he or she know a lot about history? Are they good at math?

Character Flaws: Finally, give that character flaws. These flaws humanize your characters and they generally stand in the way of your character’s success.  It’s important that your characters fail sometimes and that these failures are a result of their personal flaws. No one wants to see a perfect character. We want to see someone who is able to pull themselves back together after experiencing failure. We want to see them earn their success.

Next, focus on character goals and motivations.

Character goals: Every single character your write needs to want something. They need to have a goal and those goals will drive your story forward. For example, your main character might want to run a marathon. It’s a big deal for them and they spend your entire novel training (and failing at training) until the end when they finally do it. Running that marathon is their goal throughout your novel and they won’t stop until they succeed. Remember, character goals are different from motivations.

Also, keep in mind that even secondary characters need to want something. Develop each character and make sure you understand why they want to do something. What do they get from helping out your main character? Why do they care so much? Think about what’s at stake for them.

Motivations: There are certain things that will push your characters forward. Expanding on the marathon scenario above, maybe your main character has to finish a marathon because they will win 1 million dollars if they do. Maybe their family is poor and this is the only way to help them. That’s your character motivation. It’s obvious they really care about their family and they need the money. It’s important to understand why your character is doing something and why they want something. What will accomplishing their goals do for them? Why do they need to do? Again, what’s at stake if they don’t?

Character development is a long, in-depth process, but hopefully following these steps will help you out. It’s important that you keep your characters proactive or else you run the risk of them becoming boring. Characters that work actively toward their goals are the most interesting.

-Kris Noel

Thanks Tumblr for reminding me that its Earth Day.

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Track: UnknownRunning Up That Hill
Artist: UnknownPlacebo
Album: UnknownCovers
Played: 10055 times


Running Up That Hill | Placebo

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Track: UnknownNadeshiko Shinken, Hanafubuki
Artist: UnknownRin Takanashi
Album: Unknown侍戦隊シンケンジャー全曲集(完)秘伝音盤 歌の天下統一 Disc-2
Played: 84 times


We need to talk about Mako’s character song…

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[MONSTER] Dokurobou.

Japanese name: ドクロボウ
Romanized name: Dokurobou

Alignment: Gedoushuu
Species: Ayakashi
Inspiration: Kyoukotsu
Status: Killed by Origami Great Release.

From: Samurai Sentai Shinkenger - Episode 29


  • Kyoukotsu (狂骨) is the ghost of a corpse that has been discarded in a well. The word itself translates to “crazy bone.”
  • "Dokuro" (髑髏) means "cranium."

Source: tokumonster.tumblr.com

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Track: UnknownDo Or Die ft. Childish Gambino
Artist: UnknownFlux Pavilion
Album: UnknownBlow The Roof EP
Played: 22 times

Thanks to the fact that my brother and I have similar tastes, I now I have this song in my collection.

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These Smirnoff commercials with Alison Brie and Adam Scott are my new favorite thing.

You know how I was angry about the Vengence Trilogy American remakes?

I’m ten times more angry about The Raid: Redemption American remake.

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So a few weeks ago, after four years of demanding it, the cable company finally added BBC America to the channel line up.

Which is great because now I can watch this all day marathon of Orphan Black.