I've always wondered what makes a character three-dimensional, multi-dimensional...alive! I mean, if they're alive in my head, how could they not be on the page?
I'm thinking it all comes back to the dreaded backstory. We're told to cut, cut, cut, all that old stuff out, but what we really should be told is to select, select, select, all that's alive in that backstory and make sure it's present in an entertaining way.
If we look at a three-dimensional character from the perspective of their three dimensions: Physiologically, Sociologically, and Psychologically, then we know backstory plays a huge role in creating a believable, vibrant character. What has happened in their past can affect their appearance (scars, broken nose, and even how they choose to dress). Their social background and present state will also affect how they talk, their mannerisms, intelligence, etc., and those two combined with all that has happened to them in life thus far drives how they think, what they believe in and why they don't value something in particular.
I also believe that to have a well rounded character, they have to have a past, present and future they're striving for (think goals here). If we can weed through all that we know of our characters backstory and draw out the most pertinent elements of their three dimensions and slip them into our story in an entertaining way (think dialogue, beats, short narratives) at exactly the right time, then who lives in our heads will also spring to life on the page for others to empathise with, hate, believe, and even love.
How do you create a multi-dimensional character on your page? Does backstory play a role?
Surrendering to Him,