10 tips to add depth in your characters

Characters are the most important aspect of your story. They’re the ones who provide depth to the plot and help it go forward. It’s critical that your characters are well-rounded and compelling as one of the most significant aspects of the story.

We wrote a lot about the many categories of characters, protagonists, antagonists, and other stock characters. This time, we’ll show you how to make them more realistic and relevant by giving you tips on how to make them more detailed.

How can authors create characters with whom we can empathize? How can they create them so genuine that we want to enter their world and participate in their events? Why are we so immersed in their lives, rooting for them so passionately?

Character depth is what draws the attention of the script reader and the audience to your characters and the stories they inhabit. They’ll tune out if they don’t care about your characters or if they’ve seen similar characters before.

Catharsis is the single most important aspect of screenwriting. It’s a term that’s become increasingly popular in Hollywood in recent years. It’s even a grading category in script coverage for the film and television industries.

The trick is to give a character enough depth to show that they are more than just what the story requires of them.

The 10 tips are as follows-

1. Your character must have a personality flaw

Characters must be depicted as living, breathing people. Moreover, there is no such thing as a flawless human being. Unfortunately, most screenplays written by inexperienced screenwriters feature protagonists who are only reacting to the plot and tension. Instruments designed to keep the plot and tale moving forward.

The good guys, well, they’re good guys. The evil people, well, they’re bad guys.

That is insufficient.

Giving characters flaws is one of the most effective methods to make them relatable and cathartic. Conflict arises as a result of personality faults. Drama is born from conflict. Emotions are enticed by drama. That’s when the character’s depth comes into play.

2. Give your character a motivation

As a writer, you must determine the following three factors: goals, motives, and intention. You might be wondering what that means.

A character’s aim is what they want to do/achieve, their motivation is why they want to do it, and their intention is how they want to do it. Once you’ve found out these details, you can plot out your character’s actions.

3. Try to understand their emotional landscape

If all the reader sees from your characters is a succession of activities, they will appear lifeless. Even if they are imaginary, your characters have their own set of feelings!

As a writer, it’s your responsibility to tap into them. What brings them joy? What makes them so depressed? What arouses their interest? What is it that haunts them? You can consider all of these ideas.

4. Give your characters a secret

This is a brilliant trick that can enhance not only your character’s but also your story’s depth. When you offer a character a secret that they’re trying to keep hidden from others, the audience gets drawn deeper into the character’s world. They want and require more information.

And you’re elevating both the character and the story as you peel away the layers of that secret through your story and characterization.

Eleven escapes from a laboratory in Stranger Things and assists Will’s buddies Mike, Dustin, and Lucas in their search for their missing friend Will.

She’s a mystery. She is adamant about not discussing her past. And, despite the fact that she clearly suffers from social disorders and language hurdles as a result of her experiences, she makes every effort to keep any and all secrets about her past hidden, including her abilities and what she has done with them.

5. Extend your horizons beyond stereotypes

The idea is to think outside of the box. Develop their personalities so that they can speak for themselves. Discuss little details such as their favorite foods, favorite colors, or a specific passage from a favorite book. Consider what they enjoy as well as what they dislike. What makes this character tick might be your driving question.

6. Go beyond what is on paper

Readers only get a glimpse of your characters when they read a story. If your novel spans a brief length of time, for example, your readers may get a closer look at your characters’ behavior. There is so much that people are oblivious to see. A lot of things are left unsaid.

If you limit yourself to fleshing out characters simply to the degree of the events in your book as a writer, your research into them may appear incomplete. After all, your character didn’t just appear out of nowhere, did he? They obviously existed before and after the events of your story in their universe.

One method to get around this is to put them in situations unrelated to what you’re writing about in your novel. This is merely an exercise in putting yourself in your character’s shoes to see how they would react in these scenarios.

This allows you to explore their personalities and beliefs on a much bigger scale, which you can then incorporate into the plot — indirectly or openly.

7. Use varying degrees of distance and focus

You know how certain photos are more engaging than others because not everything is crisp and fighting for your attention? Consider the contrast between your mental notions of “photograph” and “snapshot.” A good photograph can also tell a story. They also leave the observer with a sense of mystery and interpretation.

Writers have the ability to achieve similar things. You can draw the reader in and let them discover what makes your characters tick by focusing on different characteristics of your character at different points in the novel.

Then, only when absolutely necessary, expose what you’ve hinted at in the shadows and foggy background to bring the entire picture into great focus when it matters most to the reader.

8. Put personal experiences

It is the most difficult. It doesn’t have to be the most significant or painful event in your life, but we all go through similar emotions: joy, grief, regret, hope, frustration, and fury.

Find ways to incorporate circumstances you’re familiar with into your writing. The story specifics don’t have to be autobiographical but employ emotional and physical experiences to connect your characters to your reader.

9. Make it exceptional

Don’t just make ordinary characters do ordinary things. What can you do to energize them and make the reader believe they won’t be able to overcome the tremendous stakes they’re facing?

What about your characters arouse the reader’s interest in their ability to succeed? Many characters that are judged Too Stupid To Live fail the reader at this point. As a result, the reader has lost faith in this character and may even be rooting against them.

10. Vocations and Avocations

If your character has a profession or a pastime. That’s quite good. Go a step further. What impact does this have on their vocabulary, insights, interpersonal relationships, and smaller actions and decisions?

Is it something they live and breathe? Is it just another coat of gloss? What impact does this occupation or hobby have on the plot? WHY did they/you choose this path? If you can easily swap it out, you haven’t gone far enough.

If you want your character to have enough depth, you’ll need to add a few more characteristics. A handful of these will be shared by minor characters, but not all of them:

A clear aim

everyone who reads your work should be able to tell you what your protagonist’s goal is. It can be a big goal (like saving the world from aliens) or a small goal (to finish a half marathon). Just make sure you’re clear about the goal and what’s at stake if they don’t succeed.

Internal development

In order to give a character depth, they must change. Changes might be big — such as abandoning a harmful ideology — or simple, such as deciding that they now appreciate the taste of olives. To build depth, a character must go through emotional and behavioral changes, regardless of what you chose.


Every person has flaws. Their social life may be ruined by a sweet tooth, a superiority complex, or an obsession with producing orchids. Whatever flaws your character has should cause tension in their relationships.

This will add conflict and drama to your work, even if it isn’t part of the primary plot, and make it more engaging to read.


To balance out their flaws, a well-rounded character will have skills that they excel at. The character should find and strengthen this strength as the plot unfolds for the most emotional impact.

Make it clear to your readers that the character is maturing as a person, and demonstrate how their new strength affects their emotional outlook. If you do so, they will become a lot more relatable.

Channel emotions

This third step is a little different from the rest in that it involves channeling emotions. Instead of inventing personality traits to give your characters more depth, consider sharing some of your own.

As a writer, this can be a challenging experience — especially if the emotion is sad — but it can also be extremely cathartic, adding more authenticity to your writing and making your character more relevant.


Hopefully, these pointers will assist you in saying goodbye to that flat protagonist and welcoming a believable, relatable protagonist into your novel. Use these tips to give your character that much-needed depth. Happy writing!

-Isabell S.




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