Adding Depth to Characters

By Courtney L. Smith

What do you really know about the characters you read about in stories? How much
can you say about the psychological condition of different people within certain roles? Should
a character be given nearly as much depth as someone’s profile or psychiatric evaluation in the
real world? You should give characters depth if he or she appears multiple times in a story,
despite not being the protagonist or the antagonist. Three things are needed to add depth to a
character: background, motive, and essentiality.
Giving a character a background will allow the reader to know this is not just a passing
role or someone who will make single, insignificant appearances throughout the script. You can
cue the reader this person will appear in other parts of the story, later. Many times, giving a
character a background will indicate he or she is going to have a crucial role, even if his or her
appearances are sparse at different points throughout the story. Sometimes, if a character has
a certain background that is related to the climax, his or her presence could also help the story
transition.
Providing motives for characters to act upon will also add depth to them. Characters
can actually have depth if they have an interest in the outcome of the events, regardless of
being protagonists, antagonists, or either. If they have vested interests in the outcome of the
story or a major part of it, they will be motivated to act upon the events to secure their
objectives. This will also add intrigue for your readers to see what will happen next, even if
they do not make too many appearances in the story. This can be done if they are indirectly or
directly helping the antagonists, protagonists, or something else that could influence the
outcome of the story.
Essentiality can also create depth for a character. Admittedly, it is not necessary for a
character to have depth in possessing an essential role, but making a character essential to a
plot can contribute depth to his or her purpose within the story. If you make his or her role an
essential part of the climax, rising action, or the protagonist’s objective, it will allow your
readers to view them in a much greater light. Characters with pivotal roles in the story can
increase depth, intrigue, and interest in their roles.
Adding depth to characters will undoubtedly create intrigue and interest for your
readers. This is done by applying demographic information, intention, and necessity. Your
readers will undoubtedly remain enticed. Supplying roles with transitional influence and
necessary elements will create depth within characters, which will allow them to become
pivotal points in the plot. A little depth can go a long way in regards to utilizing characters for
events and transitions.

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