character development

by Mina Bancheva

Question: I am doing an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University UK. I submitted a piece of writing and was told that my character needed more depth. Any suggestions how to add more depth to a character?

Mina Bancheva

Answer: Tricky question without seeing the story. But generally, when we talk about depth, we are talking about a deeper layer of personality.

The external layer of character includes the physical traits, habits of dress, age, cultural background, etc.

The middle layer includes things such as likes and dislikes, idiosyncrasies, habits of behaviour, family background, skills and talents.

The inner layer includes things like the emotional drives and motivations, fears, wants and desires, thought processes, problem solving approaches, beliefs, judgements, attitudes.

The best characters have all three layers developed. It may be your instructor wants you to expose the inner layer a bit more.

Try asking yourself questions like...

What are my character's deepest desires or goals?
What unfulfilled emotional needs drive my character to pursue his/her goals?
When faced with a difficult situation, how would my character try to solve it?
How does my character judge him/herself, other people, his/her situation?

And of course... How and where should I reveal these in my story?

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