This is how "deep" a character is. It involves questions like why the character does what the character does, what the character thinks, feels, desires, and hates, backstory
, and/or how the character sees the world. It may be there in Sub Text
, but it still affects the depth of the character.
This is often known as a character being One-Dimensional, Two-Dimensional
, or Three-Dimensional
Keep in mind that not all characters have to be three dimensional
, nor is there necessarily something wrong with a character who is not
. The genre, audience, plot, and role of the character affects the minimum depth needed for the character to maintain Willing Suspension of Disbelief
. Go at least that far, and you're good with the audience.
The Three Dimensions can be thought of thus:
How important the character is to the story/society/main character. Most one-dimensional characters are defined by this and one or two character trait(s).
Variation within a character. The amount of different traits that define them and how well these interact.
How the character changes the better you know them. If your ogres are like onions
, they do indeed have depth.
You can go further, it's just optional. Related to this is whether a character is Dynamic
, these can maintain or increase the dimensions of a character, or simply "move them sideways" to change their nature without adding depth. Related to Character Calculus
, at least in that the farther away a character is from the POV or Focus axes, the less developed they are likely to be.
Only One Dimension Needed
At Least Two Dimensions Needed
- It's a victim of The Virus, like a zombie. Unless one zombie has a major role, what more do you need?
- An extra in a crowd.
- A Mook in most Video Games.
- Cannon Fodder, unless the show is focusing on the horrors of war.
- Any character in a game with an Excuse Plot.
- A minor character in a story told to little children. Not that kids can't understand character depth. Just that they are likely to give that attention to major characters.
At Least Three Dimensions Needed
- A Virus victim in a major role.
- Most victims in a Slasher Movie.
- Minor characters in most movies.
- Major characters in a B-Movie.
- All but the smallest roles in a character study.
- Most major protagonists and antagonists.