Now that my (very) rough draft is complete, I’m working my way through Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass, and applying it to my current MS. Chapter 2 is called Opening Extra Character Dimensions, and it is a real eye opener.
It’s a great exercise–similar to one I did at a workshop by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love–where you identify a strong character trait for your protagonist. Then, you determine the opposite of it, and write a paragraph where your protagonist demonstrates that opposing quality.
Repeat four times.
For my hero, I found this fairly easy. In fact, I had done this already in many instances throughout my MS. Yay me, right? But wait. What about the heroine?
I failed. Not only did I make her as multi-dimensional as a piece of cardboard, I had a much harder time coming up with four personality traits for which to find antonyms. I didn’t realize she was that boring, but she could probably use some work.
I think I’m biased. I like men, so I spend a lot of time working on my hero and making him amazing, but human. I want the reader to fall in love with him as much as I do.
But ideally, the heroine is just as human and complex as the man. The reader needs to like her enough to feel that she deserves our beloved hero after all.
None of this was conscious on my part, so going through the exercise was enlightening.
How do you bring out the many dimensions of your characters to make them complex and compelling?