Friday, May 30, 2014

Flat Characters

Remember Flat Stanley?  It's a children's book (it's here: with the following description from the book page on Amazon:

"When Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning, his brother, Arthur, is yelling. A bulletin board fell on Stanley during the night, and now he is only half an inch thick! Amazing things begin happening to him. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite. He even gets to help catch two dangerous art thieves. He may be flat, but he's a hero. This is the very first Flat Stanley adventure, updated with crisp new art."

Now, if you're the parent of a young child or know any young child, 'Flat Stanley' is an annual event.  Children around the age of first or second grade color in a Flat Stanley on paper, cut it out, and send it to some unsuspecting friend or relative to photograph with interesting things in their state.  I've done a few of these myself.

For a kid, a Flat Stanley is fun.  But for an author, a 'flat Stanley' is more like a flat character.  What's a flat character?  To me, it's one that's boring and has no personality.  The person has no interesting back story, nothing they are passionate about, and someone who is more 2-D than 3-D.  There are people like this in the world, but to an author, having a flat character means death for the whole book.

I've been working on two different books and lost interest in both.  I tried to figure out why.  I have flat characters!  Yikes!  No personality, and the plots are boring.

So I'm in the process of making my 'flat Stanley' characters 3-D by giving them something that yields character and passion about something--anything.

Have you ever had that in your writing, or have you read any books like this?

Have a wonderful week!
SweetTale Books

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