How To Create a Multi-Dimensional Character | Part 1
Creating a character can feel like a hard and daunting process. Especially when you consider all the intricacies and details that make a character multi-dimensional. Whether you’re looking to create a great character for your book, short story, or even Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Campaign, I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks that will make the process much easier and quite enjoyable. In fact, I’m going to go through the process with you and create an original character so that you can see how the process works.
Race - The first thing I do when creating a character is determine their race. Are they a human? Are they are an elf? Maybe they’re an alien. Maybe they belong to a race that you’ve created. Whatever it may be, the race of your character determines their background, things they’re naturally proficient at and even abilities they might have.
For my character, I want to create an elf.
Gender & Age - Next, I decide what the gender and age of my character are. The race of your character will also affect this. Say you decide that your character is 94. If your character is a human, they’re quite old, but if they’re an elf, they’re very young. Do keep that in mind. Furthermore, the gender of your character will help determine how your character identifies and how others address them.
For my character, I want her to be a 94-year-old girl.
Alignment - This determines where the moral compass your character sits. Are they principles and naturally ‘good’? Or are they selfish and uncaring? A character’s alignment helps determine how they act and react to the world around them.
For my character, I want her to be a gray character. She does have principles, but she is not afraid to break some rules.
Backstory - A character’s backstory has a massive influence on them. It determines their goals, motivations and other personality traits. Make your backstory as long and detailed, or as short and simple as you want. Your only limit is your imagination.
For my character, I’ve designed a fun backstory - She’s originally a wood elf who was kidnapped as a baby by dark elves and raised underground. There she learnt how to steal from the surface dwellers to get by.
Occupation - This reflects what your character does for a living. How do they earn their bread? If they are unemployed, how do they get by? Who pays for their stuff? I further like to break this part into three categories - the title of their occupation, how good your character is at doing that job, How do they feel about their job?
For my character, she is a thief, she is relatively good at her job, she doesn’t really have any feelings about her job since that’s all she’s ever known.
Living arrangement - What place does your character call home? Do they live in a huge mansion? Or do they live in a tent in the woods? Your character’s living situation tells you a lot about their lifestyle. Their occupation is a major factor in determining their living arrangement.
For my character, she lives in a tent amongst other dark elves underground.
Physical Features - How does your character look? How tall are they? What colour are their eyes? Your backstory, race, and character occupation will certainly influence your character’s appearance. Maybe they even have scars reflective of their backstory, and they may have a build that is common to members of their race. Keep everything we’ve discussed so far in mind when deciding your character’s features. I like to break this part into four categories - eye colour, hair colour, build, other features.
For my character, she has hazel eyes. Her hair is naturally brown, but she obsessively bleaches it white to fit in with the dark elves around her. She also has a scar on her left eyebrow.
Goals - What does your character want? What keeps them waking up every morning and going out into the world. Setting a goal is extremely important since it gives purpose to your character. Your goal can be simple or complex, it’s completely up to you, Let your imagination run!
For my character, she wants to find her birth parents and discover her origin.
Flaws - Flaws are crucial to building any character since they add dimension to your character and make them more relatable. A character without flaws is always a boring character. Don’t be shy to give your character multiple flaws, it will only make them more interesting.
For my character, she gets angry very easily and is afraid of bright lights (since she’s lived underground for most of her life).
Name - Finally, I decide the name of the character. Everything decided so far influences your character’s name (If you like to start the character creation process with a character name, that’s completely fine. This is just how I do it).
My Character’s name is Thursa!
There we have it! That’s how you create a fun multi-dimensional character. Download the template below and get building your own character! Feel free to leave your characters in the comments section below. I would love to read about them!