Round vs Flat Character: How to Create Legendary Round and Flat Characters

Round vs Flat Character: How to Create Legendary Round and Flat Characters

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As humans, our characters are like icebergs: Out of everything that defines us, only the tips are clearly visible for everybody to see.

The heavy bulk of what makes us is hidden deep underwater. Only people we allow to get close are sometimes able to feel its shape.

The closer they are, the more of that veiled part they can sense. And sometimes, the Titanics that are other people can come too close, and a crash becomes inevitable…

That full, entire iceberg with its large, heavy bulk underwater: That’s the round character.

And the shallow floe, bobbing on the surface, visible in its entirety with nothing more underneath: That’s the flat character.

In this post, we will:

  • Define flat characters and explore what makes them flat
  • Define round characters and explore what makes them round
  • Explore some telling examples of round, and others of flat characters, so you can get a feeling for what the difference actually looks like
  • Get an in-depth answer to the question Does your flat character need to be fixed?
  • Find your ultimate guide on How to create a memorable round character
  • Likewise, find your ultimate guide on How to create a memorable flat character

And to top it off, like usual, you will get a nifty template to download:

“Create Your Perfect Round Character” Template

Round characteeeeeers, round characteeeeeers, now for just 99 cents a piece, get them heeeereee…

Actually, you will get them for free. Just download this template, fill it in, and you will have a remarkably round character in front of you. Keep the template for life to make all the characters in all of your stories deep and meaningful.

Also, get an equally great template to create flat characters, in case you ever want to write that type of story (see below). Plus, a handy summary of this post is included as well.



But who actually is this “round character guy” everybody is talking about…?

Round Character Definition

A round character’s name is always Frank. He is approximately 1.83 m high and member of a bowling team.

In fact, this is the knee-jerk reaction of my goofy mind to somebody looking for easy answers.

In reality, a round character is a character that feels 3-dimensional and has a lot of different sides to her, which only play out over the course of the entire story and can’t be grasped within a few pages. A round character has “depth,” enough different layers to her personality to surprise us, and might even have traits that are contradictory.

A round character feels authentic like in “real life,” and like the iceberg mentioned above…

Round vs Flat Character

What is a Round Character?

Now, let’s take a closer look at how a round character works. Here are some pointers:

  • You can look at a round character from many different angles: For example, a character could be dangerously unstable in his private life, but extremely disciplined when it comes to his professional life. Another character could be in a somber mood most of the time, but cheerfully happy when she is around dogs.

With a round character, the reader can never be 100% sure what lies around the next corner.

When you observe the behavior of a round character, you will also be reminded that we all play different roles in life for different people: We talk to our father differently than we talk to our wife; we talk to our tennis partner differently than we talk to our butler (please, don’t tell me you don’t have a butler).

  • Reading a story about a round character, you can feel the weight to his personality. There is something behind his character traits, they are there for a reason; whether they are rooted in another trait, or in his background, or in an internal conflict, or in something else.

For example, traits could come from the character’s desires and fears, from his current or past relationships or from past experiences. Imagine a character who is very brave because he grew up without parents in a hostile environment and had no choice but to become strong and brave.

In short: His traits are interconnected, and the entire package just makes sense. Exactly like with real people you know – and no matter if you are aware of their whys or not.

  • A round character is realistic, while a flat character is schematic. Now, what does realistic mean for a character?

It means the character looks as believable as a real human, like someone we have around us in real life. In our heads, she has become a being of flesh and blood. And being a real human means, above all, being imperfect! We consist of imperfection, vulnerabilities, contradiction, ambivalence and paradox. Yes, we are pretty confusing, you and me.

A character could be brutal but loving, distrustful but impulsive, greedy but compassionate.

This is why in the Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix, the Joker for the first time appears as a round character. When the Joker figure appeared in older movies and TV series, he was always just a chaotic, ruthless criminal – a caricature.

But this time, we see his human side, his imperfections, his struggles, his fears and his suffering. We see him as a human – a real person. He is not just a culprit anymore, he is a victim too. Reality is complex. Round characters are complex.

  • Therefore: A round character is like us, like our sister, like our best friend, authentic and realistic, whereas a flat character is not.Creating authentic characters is very important because they are intriguing and let your reader feel like she is stepping right into your story. We care about these characters, almost like we care about real people – and therefore we truly care about the story.

This is the reason why you see people with tears in their eyes at the end of movies or books; and this is the reason why we love it when the bad guy is finally defeated. We are oozing humanity (into our tissues).

  • Oh, one more point: Round characters often (but not always) change throughout the story; they evolve. A round character will usually have at least one breakthrough moment, an experience, a realization that makes them at least a slightly different person.

     

    Again, this change in their inner landscapes makes our round characters more complex and more 3-dimensional: What’s inside of him that triggered this change? Where does his change lead to? The character’s psychology in motion makes the plot more interesting.
  • Finally, here is a test: How quickly can you summarize your character? The longer the summary takes, the rounder your character is. If it takes you many paragraphs, or even pages, then it’s a complex and round character.

But what does its polar opposite, the flat character, have in store for us – is it plain bad writing?

Flat Character Definition

You name 2-4 traits, and everything about your character is said?

In that case, it’s a flat character.

A flat character is woodcut-like and only shows the reader a couple of corner-point character traits. These are usually 2-4 strong traits, which are emphasized for the purpose of entertainment or for the purpose of plot, but neither any deep connections between these traits nor much background are established (we will look at a couple of examples below).

A flat character works in a simplistic way, like a caricature would, and is much easier to create and to analyze than a round character. A flat character doesn’t “break” the 2-4 main traits that make him, and therefore he has no second or third layer to his personality.

Just imagine your neighbor in a Donald Duck sailor’s suit, with Donald-Duck-like ambitions, to visualize the difference between a round and a flat character…

What is a Flat Character?

Here is a flat character in a couple of flattened-out bullet points (for your 2D viewing pleasure):

  • While a round character feels realistic, a flat character feels schematic, like a quick sketch. This sketch-like nature makes it much quicker and easier not only to create your flat character but also to understand their formula within a few pages. There is just not more to it. This simplicity makes the flat character perfect for certain genres and occasions (see below).
  • A flat character’s traits are emphasized, for one because he doesn’t have many. Other reasons are to keep the story simple, or for comical exaggeration in a comedy or a cartoon. And, of course, another (and very common) reason is that the writer just doesn’t know any better…
  • A flat character is not realistic because even the simplest person you know, even the barefoot guy with the straw hat, is not that simple. Even a very primitive person would have fears, a background, etc. Flat characters are artificial creations that stay on the pages they were created on… but they can be great fun!
  • Flat characters are put into clear categories by the author. It is obvious whether a flat character is good or bad, whether he is a winner or a loser, whether he is smart or dumb. There are no grey zones and no ambiguities. Compare this to a round character, who could be a good person, but occasionally shoplifts.
  • Finally, a flat character doesn’t change and evolve. Flat characters stay who they are because the story is not focused on their inner lives. The story is centered on plot and effect, not on psychology.

(“Shark-Dressed Ape;” as Opposed to “Sharp-Dressed Ape”)

Round Characters Examples

To understand round characters, we will let one of the best round-character-creators in the history of literature help us out. This author had an immense talent to create multi-layered, sparkling, real characters that truly stood the test of time. Even after over 70 years, they are still portrayed on stages all over the globe.

I’m talking about Tennessee Williams, and the famous play we will look at is A Streetcar Named Desire (later made into an acclaimed movie).

Stanley Kowalski is one of the play’s main characters. He is a loud, crude and uninhibited alpha male. His sister-in-law, Blanche, even describes him as “sub-human” and “ape-like,” and Tennessee Williams, in a fit of explicit character description, characterizes him with “Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes.”

However, at one particular point in the play, Stanley’s vulnerable and needy side opens up like a gaping wound. He has hit his wife Stella in rage and has made her run off to seek shelter with their neighbor, Eunice.

Needy and desperate, he now tries to get her to come back:

STANLEY: Stella! [There is a pause] My baby doll’s left me! [He breaks into sobs. Then he goes to the phone and dials, still shuddering with sobs.] Eunice? I want my baby. [He waits a moment; then he hangs up and dials again] Eunice! I’ll keep on ringin’ until I talk with my baby![…]

[Finally, Stanley stumbles half dressed out to the porch and down the wooden steps to the pavement before the building. There he throws back his head like a baying hound and bellows his wife’s name: “Stella! Stella, sweetheart! Stella!”]

STANLEY: Stellahhhhh!

EUNICE [calling down from the door of her upper apartment]: Quit that howling out there an’ go back to bed!

STANLEY: I want my baby down here. Stella, Stella!

EUNICE: She ain’t comin’ down so you quit! Or you’ll git th’ law on you!

STANLEY: Stella!

EUNICE: You can’t beat on a woman an’ then call ‘er back! She won’t come! And her goin’ t’ have a baby!… You stinker! You whelp of a Polack, you! I hope they do haul you in and turn the fire hose on you, same as the last time!

STANLEY [humbly]: Eunice, I want my girl to come down with me!

EUNICE: Hah! [She slams her door.]

STANLEY [with heaven-splitting violence]: STELLLAHHHHH!

 

 

This strong man’s man is “shuddering with sobs.” Williams lets us see the complete opposite of Stanley’s basic personality pattern. However, it’s just for a brief moment. One specific situation manages to bring out this other side in him.

You can also see that Stanley still acts after his basic traits, even while he is breaking down: Not everybody would have gone after their wife immediately, relentlessly and unapologetically, right after hitting her. Feelings of inner guilt and shame or Eunice’s swearing might have gotten less self-confident types of people to hesitate.

In contrast, Stanley doesn’t waste any time with excuses or even just with explaining himself – he straight up goes for what he wants, again and again, no matter how many times he is denied, until Stella finally falls into his arms again.

This is what you call a masterful display of a multi-faceted, round character.

How about examining another figure from Tennessee Williams’ universe?

Blanche is Stella’s troubled sister and therefore Stanley’s sister-in-law. Blanche is complex, neurotic, annoying, fickle and highly sensitive and insecure. For example, she constantly needs reinforcement about her looks.

BLANCHE: You haven’t said a word about my appearance.

STELLA: You look just fine.

BLANCHE: God love you for a liar! Daylight never exposed so total a ruin!

 

 

The same in the next piece – always on the lookout for flattery:

BLANCHE: Oh, in my youth I excited some admiration. But look at me now! [She smiles at him radiantly] Would you think it possible that I was once considered to be–attractive?

STANLEY: Your looks are okay.

BLANCHE: I was fishing for a compliment, Stanley.

STANLEY: I don’t go in for that stuff.

 

 

Blanche has found shelter in Stanley’s and Stella’s apartment. When she finds out that her shelter is about to be taken away from her and she will be left on her own again, she is sensitive enough to break down completely.

 BLANCHE: Why, why–Why, it’s a—

STANLEY: Ticket! Back to Laurel! On the Greyhound! Tuesday!

[[…] Blanche tries to smile. Then she tries to laugh. Then she gives both up and springs from the table and runs into the next room. She clutches her throat and then runs into the bathroom. Coughing, gagging sounds are heard.]

 

 

But Blanche has also developed coping mechanisms for her anxieties and her helplessness. For one, she hides away in her fantasies about an imaginary suitor to stop all of her psychological and financial pain.

 STANLEY: This millionaire from Dallas is not going to interfere with your privacy any?

BLANCHE: It won’t be the sort of thing you have in mind. This man is a gentleman and he respects me. [Improvising feverishly] What he wants is my companionship. Having great wealth sometimes makes people lonely! A cultivated woman, a woman of intelligence and breeding, can enrich a man’s life–immeasurably! I have those things to offer, and this doesn’t take them away. Physical beauty is passing. A transitory possession. But beauty of the mind and richness of the spirit and tenderness of the heart–and I have all of those things–aren’t taken away, but grow!

 

 

Can you see how all of these snippets subtly connect to a big picture, showing a neurotic and sensitive person? Each snapshot is coming from a slightly different angle. The end product is clear.

But why is Blanche that way? Why is she so haunted, so neurotic, so insecure? Why does she need so much protection from the world? In just two lines, Williams gives us an answer:

 STELLA: You needn’t have been so cruel to someone alone as she is.

STANLEY: Delicate piece she is.

STELLA: She is. She was. You didn’t know Blanche as a girl. Nobody, nobody, was tender and trusting as she was. But people like you abused her, and forced her to change.

 

 

And voilà, with one single broad stroke of his writer’s brush, Williams adds a world of depth to Blanche’s character.

Blanche now has some background, a backstory like all of us have – and like all of us, she is heavily influenced by it. This short explanation makes her feel a lot more like you and me, and a lot more real.

We have learned what’s behind her character traits; we have seen her background and her Achilles’ heel unveiled.

Finally, I want to show you one last example out of A Streetcar Named Desire. This one demonstrates how two different kinds of behavior can surface in the very same round character, depending on who the character is talking to.

Stella is Blanche’s little sister. Between the two of them, you can feel the affection, the trust, the familiarity. When the two of them get together, they almost revert back to the personalities of giggly teenage girls. Decades of familiarity become visible within a couple of lines:

STELLA [calling out joyfully]: Blanche! [For a moment they stare at each other. Then Blanche springs up and runs to her with a wild cry.]BLANCHE: Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star! [She begins to speak with feverish vivacity as if she feared for either of them to stop and think. They catch each other in a spasmodic embrace.]

BLANCHE: Now, then, let me look at you. But don’t you look at me, Stella, no, no, no, not till later, not till I’ve bathed and rested! And turn that over-light off! Turn that off! I won’t be looked at in this merciless glare! [Stella laughs and complies] Come back here now! Oh, my baby! Stella! Stella for Star! [She embraces her again] I thought you would never come back to this horrible place! What am I saying? I didn’t mean to say that. I meant to be nice about it and say–Oh, what a convenient location and such–Haa-ha! Precious lamb! You haven’t said a word to me.

STELLA: You haven’t given me a chance to, honey! [She laughs, but her glance at Blanche is a little anxious.]

BLANCHE: Well, now you talk. Open your pretty mouth and talk while I look around for some liquor! I know you must have some liquor on the place! Where could it be, I wonder? Oh, I spy, I spy! [She rushes to the closet and removes the bottle; she is shaking all over and panting for breath as she tries to laugh. The bottle nearly slips from her grasp.]

 

 

How very different is Blanche’s demeanor around Stanley! She can not help but flirt with him a bit and pose for her manly brother-in-law. We can see an all grown up, coquettish and seductive Blanche here, choosing her every word carefully:

BLANCHE [airily]: Hello, Stanley! Here I am, all freshly bathed and scented, and feeling like a brand new human being![He lights a cigarette.]

STANLEY: That’s good.

BLANCHE [drawing the curtains at the windows]: Excuse me while I slip on my pretty new dress!

STANLEY: Go right ahead, Blanche. [She closes the drapes between the rooms.]

BLANCHE: I understand there’s to be a little card party to which we ladies are cordially not invited!

STANLEY [ominously]: Yeah?

[Blanche throws off her robe and slips into a flowered print dress.]

BLANCHE: Where’s Stella?

STANLEY: Out on the porch.

BLANCHE: I’m going to ask a favor of you in a moment.

STANLEY: What could that be, I wonder?

BLANCHE: Some buttons in back! You may enter! [He crosses through drapes with a smoldering look.] How do I look?

STANLEY: You look all right.

BLANCHE: Many thanks! Now the buttons!

STANLEY: I can’t do nothing with them.

BLANCHE: You men with your big clumsy fingers. May I have a drag on your cig?

 

 

A fantastic character creator knows that one character will show several different faces, in different situations and to different people. We all do. Blanche is talking very differently to her little sister than to the crude alpha male.

If you manage to draw your characters as subtly as Williams draws Blanche, you will have reached the pinnacle of character creation.

We will now look at the exact opposite – the character who is flat as a pancake.

Flat Characters Examples

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a heart-warming tale about the value of generosity and caring. Like in a fairy tale, the story is built around a lesson of moral, while plot and characters are simplified.

And like in a fairy tale, the characters are flat.

Right from the start, Dickens leaves no doubt about who the bad guy is: It’s Ebenezer Scrooge, the stingy, grumpy and heartless old moneylender.

Scrooge does not have many more additional traits. He also doesn’t have any good traits to contrast his bad ones. We don’t learn much about his inner psychology. His desires are simple – make money, then keep it.

His persona needs to be simplified to drive home the moral of the story. This man is STINGY. Like, really stingy. For all we know, he is locking up his office at night not with a key, but with stinginess.

Positive traits, vulnerabilities, contradiction, nuances, background, ambiguity… beeeep, all negative!

Scrooge’s main trait is heavily emphasized right from the first page onwards:

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open, that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who, in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.“A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation Scrooge had of his approach.

“Bah!” said Scrooge; “humbug!”

“Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don’t mean that, I am sure?”

“I do. Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I had my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

 

 

We get it; Scrooge is stingy, miserable and his world revolves around money. Dickens has wonderful scenes and images in store for us, but they don’t add any additional layers to Scrooge’s character. Scrooge is how he is – predictable.

The Scrooge character misses one significant mark of a flat character though: He doesn’t stay static. During the story, he transforms into his complete opposite, becoming cheerful and generous.

The simple reason for his transformation is that the whole point of Dickens’ tale is to show Scrooge’s change of heart. Without Scrooge changing, there is no story. So as you can see, every rule has its exception.

However, a character is not just either completely round or all flat; there are, in fact, “levels” of flatness. Let’s tip our toes down that scale in search of some even flatter characters.

We make a discovery when we come across Disney comics. Their goal is not to present complex and fascinating real-life characters, but to entertain our children and us with fun and colorfully sketched figures.

You can describe a Disney character almost in his entirety with three or four attributes:

  • Donald is short-tempered, inept and unlucky
  • Goofy is good-natured, slow, and dim-witted
  • Uncle Scrooge is stingy, entrepreneurial and unscrupulous (kind of like his namesake above)
  • Mickey Mouse is smart, calm and level-headed

We know very little about these characters’ backgrounds, and it is easy to predict how they will react. They show a lot of consistency, but little paradox or ambiguity.

After all, how realistic can a duck in a sailor suit be…?

I, for one, grew up with these characters, enjoyed them in hundreds of stories and still love them to this day. They are icons of modern pop culture and I owe many amusing hours to them and wouldn’t have them any other way. Thank you, my Dear Ducks!

To close out, we will move on to the most extreme shallow end of the pool. But who might we find there…?

Where can we get us a character so flat, so one-dimensional, that your goldfish would look like a complex enigma next to them?

This posterchild of flatness, light-heartedly crossing our path is… Little Miss Cheeky!

Her story starts with real talk:

This is a story about little Miss Cheeky. Have you ever heard a story about a cheeky little girl? Well, this is one of those stories. She is the most cheekiest person I know in the whole entire world.

 

As you can see, the character is so flat the story can’t help but impose upon us in detail the sheer glory of her flatness, right from the opening. Hey, she is flat and proud of it!

I mean, her NAME is Little Miss Cheeky! She is just… cheeky.

But there is more:

 When she got to the paper factory, Mr Tear reminded her that she could not be cheeky ever again. When he sent her to work, she pulled the pranks and carried on what she was doing. Then she heard a scream come from the mens’ bathroom, she knew that her prank worked. No one ever knew who glued stacks and stacks of paper together. She got away with her prank! 

 

If you have an IQ higher than Goofy’s, first off, congratulations, and secondly, I’m sure you can put the pieces of this post together yourself and figure out why Little Miss Cheeky is the flattest one of them all.

And again, this is not to take anything away from the Mr. Men book series. They are made for children, they are colorful and fun, and they are just what they are supposed to be… flat characters, to be consumed within a couple of minutes.

Ok, so your character is flat, now what? Do you have to call the doctor?

Let’s ask ourselves:

Does your flat character need to be fixed?

Ok, so you want to know if you should fix your flat character.

To me, this question sounds like asking “Is 348 a small or a large number?”

Answer: If this is the number of your brain cells, it’s a very small number. But if this is the number of STDs you have accumulated, it’s an extraordinarily large number.

So it depends.

It depends on the kind of story you are writing, the role of the character, and what you plan to do with it. Generally, aim for a round character.

You often hear “the characters are flat” as a critique, and rightfully so, if the statement is about a traditional novel. In most books, you want to draw the reader deep into your story with vivid and authentic round characters.

But flat characters definitely have their places to shine. Here are the cases in which a flat character will empower their writer and add to the story:

  • First, let’s mention the obvious: Almost every story features flat characters – I’m talking about minor and supporting characters. Giving all of them depth would be pointless, distract from the story, and delay it without need.

It might even confuse the reader by making her think that a character plays a more important role than he actually does. To know everything about the rich inner life of the doorman just doesn’t make any sense. He should stay flat to keep your story structure in order.

  • Next, we have comics. Comics don’t have much space for a plot to unfold, so they should keep it light and short. We don’t even know why Donald Duck takes care of his three nephews and where their father is – that’s how little we know about their background.
  • Same goes for fairy tales, as they mainly focus on plot and moral lessons. The evil characters usually draw the short straw in the end (sorry, Rumpelstiltskin!). Very round characters would stand in the way of simplicity and, again, distract. Most importantly, fairy tales are written for children, and that gets us to our next point:
  • Children’s books don’t need deep characters, as you want to keep these stories as simple and as easy to understand as possible. Little 4-year-old Suzie can’t grasp whether Ben the Beaver has an inferiority complex because his mother was too busy with her lovers and as a baby never let him gnaw on any nicely shaped branches.
  • Action-heavy stories do not depend on deep, round characters, as they focus on action (hence their name, in case you were wondering). “The Fast and the Furious” doesn’t take place at a therapy practice.

However, even action movies can benefit a lot from round characters. The best stories use all of the tools of great storytelling and not just one or two. Unfortunately, most action movies show us nothing but explosions and heavy impact with meaningless characters. If you want to see an unintentional flat character, just watch an action movie!

  • Then, we have comedy: Comedies live off exaggeration. We can laugh about exaggerated character traits because they are so blown out of proportion. You only have to put the character with his exaggerated trait into the right situation and context, and it will be funny.

Depth will sometimes make things heavier and more serious and wear your comedy down. You can keep comedy light and simple with flat characters, if you want.

  • Finally, many Fantasy and Science Fiction stories also tend to have flatter characters. I’m assuming this is because they focus so much on world building. If they can build a fascinating world, they can usually get away with flatter characters. But keep in mind that even if your story works without round characters – you would put the cherry on top of it, if you managed to create fascinating characters as well.

Some Fantasy Stuff (because we all love unicorns)

After all that theory talk… let’s give you a simple step-by-step instruction for creating a round character, and another one for creating a flat character.

How to Create a Memorable Flat Character in 5 Steps

  1. Start out with 2-4 strong characteristics! This couldn’t be any easier – point your fingers at random words in the dictionary if you have to. Ask the mailman.
  2. How could you emphasize your character’s traits? What could your character do or say to make her traits obvious?
  3. Now that you have the broad strokes of your character down, decide what she stands for: Is there one archetype or idea that sums up your character? If so, keep them in mind during all of her adventures. That archetype or idea is her “parent character.”
  4. From these broad strokes, can you tell how the character looks and how she typically acts? Take notes!
  5. Think about plotlines your character’s strong traits could trigger.
  6. There she goes, your simple, one-dimensional character with clear traits. Go get them, cartoon character! Grin and bounce!

How to Create a Memorable Round Character in 5 Steps

  1. Just like with your flat character above, outline your round character’s basic cornerstone traits. This time though, you should find more of them; let’s say 5-6 traits.
  2. Think about as many facets of your character as you can and add them, one by one, to his basic traits in a way that makes sense within the overall picture: His flaws and virtues, his skills, his relationships, his values, his fears and desires, etc.
  3. How does his backstory influence him? Add his history, and tell us how it led to who he is today!
  4. Put him to the test! Come up with a list of situations. Do you have a sufficiently clear picture of how he would act in these situations?
  5. How do the other characters in your story see him? Let each of them talk about him and paint him in an at least slightly different light.
  6. Enjoy your round character, and talk to him about anything until the wee hours of the morning light (that’s how real he is)!

Round and Flat Character Step-by-Step Templates

If you want to make it easy for yourself, download these two free templates to quickly create your round and your flat character. They are step-by-step forms; it won’t get any easier.

A practical summary of the most important points of this post is included, for quick reference. Just download these templates and fill them in:



Oh, and one more thing:

Round Character, Flat Character Writing Prompt

Like with every post, here is your writing prompt: George is easygoing, lazy and sarcastic. He adores Walker, his Dachshund and best buddy, and the only one for whom he is ready to move his butt.

Develope George as a round character by using the techniques described above.

Even better, post your round George in the comments. Putting your ideas out into the world could give you a motivational boost!

Round vs Flat Character, Outro

A round character feels 3-dimensional, deep, and has a lot of different sides to them. They have a background, values, fears and desires, all of which combine to make them complex. They are realistic.

A flat character feels simplistic and schematic and only has a few emphasized traits to them. We can get to know them completely within a page. They don’t have much background or a rich inner life.

Memorable characters truly are the element of a story that readers will remember forever. If you go step by step and add layer by layer, you will soon have your sparkling, remarkably real round character at hand – as if he were sitting next to you in your living room!

At that point, your readers will shout out in delight: “I want to know more about them!”, and they will turn the pages of your story, fascinated by its characters.

Image Credits: Title Image: klyaksun/123rf; Round Character: ellagrin/123rf; Guy with Belly: topvectors/123rf; Flat Character Toast: jemastock/123rf; Shark-Dressed Ape: kyyybic/123rf; You Look Great: sylverarts/123rf; Dickens Book: plateresca/123rf;

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3 Comments

  1. red

    Very good read, thank you. Doing a characterization is always fun. It shows we now something what we’re about. Mine tend to grow only as the story grows and with multiple editings. Happy spring!

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