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From Flat to Fantastic – Adding Instant Depth to Your Characters and Plot

Ahoy, intrepid storyteller! Do you ever gaze upon your characters and feel like they’re, well, a bit two-dimensional? Like that cardboard cutout of Captain Jack Sparrow you keep in your writing room for “inspiration”. (It’s okay, we all have our quirks.)

Fear not! I’m here to lend you a sprinkle of that magical narrative fairy dust to pop your characters off the page and turn your plot from a lumpy potato into an exquisite French fry. (Or chip, if you’re on the other side of the pond.)

Transforming Tip #1. Quirks Make Perks

Ever met someone entirely ordinary? Me neither. Because everyone’s got something—a nervous tic, an unusual hobby, an irrational fear of spoons. These quirks make characters memorable. So, let your character collect rubber ducks, or hum show tunes in stressful situations. Make them alive and idiosyncratic. Just like Aunt Mable at the family reunions.

Transforming Tip #2. Flaws Aren’t Just for Flawed Plans

Mr. or Ms. Perfect is boring. There, I said it. Give your characters flaws. Not just “oh, they’re too selfless,” I mean real, relatable flaws. Maybe they’re stubborn to a fault, or maybe they snort when they laugh (is that a flaw, though?). Whatever it is, make it something that affects their journey.

Transforming Tip #3. The Past is Prologue

Just like you wouldn’t appreciate being defined by the contents of your high school yearbook, your characters have a past. Let it shape them. A traumatizing event, a joyous memory, an old feud—they’ve lived before page one, so make sure the reader feels that depth.

Transforming Tip #4. Plot Twists are Your Flavour Enhancers

You know what’s fun? Pulling the proverbial rug from underneath your readers. Not in a cruel way, but in an “AHA! Bet you didn’t see that coming” manner. Red herrings, surprise connections, hidden agendas—season your plot with these twists, and watch as your readers hungrily flip each page.

Transforming Tip #5. Stake it High

Make the stakes personal. A quest to save the world is cool, but a quest to save a sister, a beloved, or even a treasured pet parrot named Sir Squawksalot? That’s a goal we can get behind. The more personal the stakes, the deeper the emotional investment.

To wrap up our whirlwind lesson today—characters, like real humans, are multi-faceted. Their fears, their joys, their little eccentricities—they all add layers. And plots? Well, they’re like soups. Without the right seasoning, they’re just hot water. So, season away, chef!

And remember, depth doesn’t always mean dark and brooding. Sometimes, it just means being human. Or in the case of Sir Squawksalot, being a really, really important parrot.

All set for the next piece of wisdom? Trust me, there’s plenty more where that came from!

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