I don’t mean insignificant things like favorite food or what’s on his bedroom floor, which—I know—might be one and the same. There is an (occasionally helpful) trace of personality there, but no real substance.
Those things aren’t him.
Imagine your character walking down the street. A normal street, a normal day. Does he swagger or cavort or stroll or stride? (Tell me in the comments!)
It’s the difference between going through someone’s stuff and meeting them. One is simply more effective, especially when you know what you’re looking for.
Your character’s walk is a clue to his personality, his presence. But it’s just one small piece, no matter how real.
The fullness of personality still awaits.
Unfortunately, for most writers it’s easier said than done.
…Even me. There was a time that I would work with a character’s fear and desire and inner conflict, and I would end up feeling like I was looking at a cartoon made of words. I had the head and the heart, but not the spirit.
So we need to define what rounds out a character so that you can identify the areas needing attention.
Overview coming right up.
5 Dimensions of Personality
This is an overarching framework, and encompasses every aspect of personality. Each category houses immense opportunities for color and texture, stemming from a wide variety of personality paradigms (nearly a dozen!) to give a full and nuanced view of your character.
I use this system in my Forensic Character Sketch sessions to pull characters from fuzzy beginnings into vibrant, distinct being.
Presence is how your character comes across to other characters, how he presents himself, holds himself, comports himself. It is the attitude he carries and the energy he exudes. Think stage presence turned page presence.
Does your character have his own mien?
Motivation is everything that moves him. It’s the “why” behind actions, reactions, and emotions.
What prompts your character to act? To react?
Method is the pattern of of choices made in acting on a motivation. It indirectly reveals how he thinks, and can be a clear path to understanding the deeper workings of the mind.
What approach does your character take?
Interaction is how he handles different relationships, how he communicates, what he needs, what he gives, and how close he gets.
How does your character relate to others?
Underpinning is how the character’s mind works at the deepest levels. It is the seat of personality. As such, it houses mental systems that, whether determined by nature or nurture, are the unconscious core of who he is.
Who is your character if you strip away agenda and persona? What is his basic personality?
THIS IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART
This is for the imagineers. This is for the storytellers.
The Dimensions are broad. Deep. Mysterious. And if you push and question and probe and seek, your character will give up his secrets, throw aside his robe of ambiguousness, and show you his soul.
You can create hundreds of unique characters, voice and all, using this system of understanding. You are not limited to casting and recasting a few personalities. You are more insightful and inventive than that.
You are capable. You have tools at your disposal. Never settle for oh-him-again characters. NEVER.
It’s Time to Step Up and DIG IN.
You are not alone in struggling to find that spark of life. Hundreds of people visit this site each day hoping to clarify and capture the distinct personality of their characters.
This is the key.
The basic personality is the most elusive element of character because it’s so all-encompassing. But the point is that the Dimensions allow you to make sure you’re looking in all the right directions.
You can do this.
And you don’t have to do it solo.
There’s a FREE email mini-course coming soon. The Character Personality Jumpstarter will show you how to use the 5 Dimensions and demonstrate the specific questions you can ask.
Now, do me a HUGE favor:
Comment with your questions about the 5 Dimensions. I’ll use them to help me shape the mini-course.
See you soon!