Vicki's Book News and Articles

Craft: Two-Dimensional Characters

Written by Vicki Hinze

On December 28, 2010

Vicki Hinze © 2003-2011

I just had my mainstream fiction manuscript edited and was told that my characters are two dimensional. What does that mean? What is the difference between one, two and three dimensional characters?
Three-dimensional characters are ones the author has breathed life into on the page. They’re the ones that readers empathize with, consider real people. One way you know you’ve succeeded in creating a three-dimensional character is when that character gets fan mail. Miss Hattie, from my Seascape series, got more mail than I did. 🙂
In my library, you’ll see an article titled, CREATING UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS. It will, I hope, give you a good grip on this and go into more explicit detail.
The basic upshot is this: human beings have three dimensions:
• Physical.
• Emotional.
• Spiritual.
It takes all three to have a well-rounded, real human being.
Now, the emotional and spiritual aspects might or might not play a large part in the novel. In some mysteries, we don’t see significant emotional growth in the characters. But we do know emotions are there. Same for spiritual self. We don’t necessarily see the character practicing faith, but we do know what s/he believes in–or does not. The character and story fit hand to glove, so there are no absolutes.
But if you want a character who is well-rounded and comes across to the reader as a real human being, then that character must be three-dimensional. That means, the author has to relay details either through content or context that cue the reader on each of the character’s dimensions. If you read the article on the website and still aren’t clear on this, yell, and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you further.*


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