Guest Blogger: Karen Cioffi–Is Your Character One, Two, Or Three Dimensional?

Ghost Blogger Kristin Johnson’s Note: As we announced, Walking Through Walls author Karen Cioffi is one of the hosts for the “High-Tech GooseBlog Tour”. She is also honoring us with a post that speaks to the advice my fellow Ghost Bloggers and I have provided previously. If you read Karen’s book, which I will review in a subsequent post, you will glimpse her 3D Character System at work…and you don’t even need 3D glasses!

Thanks for this wonderful article, Karen.

Is Your Character One, Two, Or Three Dimensional?

By Karen Cioffi

Between your characters, the plot, and the other writing elements, you develop a story. If the mix is right, and the characters are believable, you can create a story worthy of publication.

Creating believable characters is an essential part of writing, and they need to be as life-like as possible. To accomplish this, you need to have a three dimensional protagonist.

So, which is your protagonist?

Is your protagonist flat – lacks any type of emotion and action, like the simple and safe kiddy rides at a children’s amusement park, the carousel horse that goes round and round, but does nothing else? Then you have a one-dimensional character on your hands.

Is your protagonist a little bumpy – he has some quirks, life and emotion, but no real depth of character or history, like the carousel horse that goes round and round and up and down at a steady easy pace? Then you have a two-dimensional character struggling to break into the world of believability.

Is your protagonist a full blown amusement park – a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, knowledge, emotion, character, quirks, life, and history? Now you have it; you have a believable three dimensional character that is strong enough to bring your story through to the end.

Now the question is: how do you create a wonderful, believable life-like three dimensional character?

There are a number of methods you can use that will help you create a believable character, here are two:

1. Create a character sheet or use an index card before you begin.

On your sheet, list all the characteristics, quirks, moods, mannerisms, physical attributes, artistic attributes…you get the idea. Keep this sheet handy as you’re writing your story. If you tell the reader Pete has blonde hair in the beginning of the story, and then you describe it as black, unless he dyed his hair as part of the storyline, stay true to the character. Readers pick up on errors very quickly.

The more detail you add to your character sheet the easier it will be to know what your protagonist will do in any given circumstance. This will take the element of wondering out of your writing process and save time: Pete finds a bag of money next to his neighbor’s car. Hmm . . . will he keep the money or try to find out if it’s his neighbor’s? Oh, wait a minute, on your character sheet you wrote he’s an honest guy! Simple.

2. Add characteristics and attributes to your protagonist as you write your story.

Write your protagonist’s characteristics, quirks, moods, mannerisms, and so on, on a character sheet as your story evolves. There are some writers who use different methods to create a story. Maybe you’re using the ‘seat-of-the-pants-method’ and your character evolves as your story does. With this method, you want to be sure to note each new development in your protagonist’s character or being.

Let’s go back to Pete again. Pete scratches a car as he’s parking. Does he leave a note on the car he damaged? Does he quickly leave the scene? Does he just ignore the incident as if it didn’t happen? Whichever one of these actions he chooses will establish another element to his character – be sure to make note of it.

No matter which process you use, remember to add life-like qualities to your character. Readers need to develop a relationship with the protagonist. If they feel Pete is three dimensional and they are drawn to him, they’ll be sure to read to the end of your book.


Karen Cioffi is an author and ghostwriter. Her new MG/YA fantasy book, Walking Through Walls, is based on an ancient Chinese tale.

Wang longs to be rich…and powerful. At twelve-years-old, he already knows more about the Eternals and their way of life than many of the adults in his village. Learning about these mystics takes his thoughts away from the possibility of working in the wheat fields all his life, like his father. Wang has far grander goals.


Walking Through Walls should now be available through online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and book stores. If it’s not yet listed, it will be very soon!
You can also order the book today at:

To learn more about Walking Through Walls, its touring schedule and contest, and purchasing information visit:

To learn more about Karen and her books, visit:


Please be sure to stop by Eylsabeth Eldering’ site on July 19th for the next stop on the Walking Through Walls Tour.



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5 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Karen Cioffi–Is Your Character One, Two, Or Three Dimensional?

  1. Hi, Kristin,

    Thanks so much for featuring my article today. I didn’t realize at first the link was above the review!

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    1. Hi Karen,

      Thanks for featuring us! And you have already gotten good feedback as you see.

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  2. It was really a nioce article. Keep posting more with same pace. BRAVO !!!
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