Comic Talk and General Discussion *

"The character is flat and 2-dimensional!"
GeekyGami at 8:42AM, Aug. 23, 2022
posts: 26
joined: 7-15-2022
I had a long debate with a friend about that.

What makes a character 2-dimensional?

We had both finished watching RE:ZERO, and had both come to completely different conclusions about REM as a character.

He thought she was flat as a board, I thought she was a fairly normal seeming individual, but far from flat.

His argument was that he thinks she existed solely to love the main character.

The thing is, when you love someone to that extent, it tends to be like that, they become a gigantic part of your world, right?
It's like being in love is somehow 2-dimensional.

This is also disregarding the fact that her relationship with her sister is almost as important.

So, I re-iterate, what makes a character two-dimensional and flat?
Do they absolutely need to have flaws or multiple aspirations and different things going on to be seen as 3-dimensional characters?
bravo1102 at 8:52AM, Aug. 23, 2022
posts: 6,010
joined: 1-21-2008
One way to figure this out is to take the saying literally.

Could the character be replaced with a cardboard cut out and it not matter to the story? Are they just a placeholder stand-in or is there anything to them?

There can be one note characters that are still 3D because they have a purpose and function as opposed to just being there like a hunk of cardboard.
dpat57 at 10:17AM, Aug. 23, 2022
posts: 219
joined: 8-10-2009
They need a goal, and need to go do whatever gets them closer to achieving that goal. No standing around just so they can be in love. Life interrupts. People need stuff.
dragonsong12 at 10:54AM, Aug. 23, 2022
posts: 97
joined: 1-2-2006
I don't know RE:Zero, so I'm not going to speak to this specific character, but I'll echo a lot of what bravo1122 is saying. That's pretty succinct and everything I was thinking of saying.

Ideally, if a character is well-rounded, we should have a pretty good idea of how they'll act in any given situation. When would they be afraid, when would they bravely stand up, when would they laugh, when would they cry, what makes them angry, when would they take the initiative, when would they ignore the situation. If the answer to every question about them comes down to pining over their love then it just isn't very interesting or engaging.

Love is a very powerful emotion, but even in the most extreme of cases it doesn't overwrite the entire personality (and if it does, that person probably needs some help).
Ironscarf at 11:09AM, Aug. 23, 2022
posts: 1,889
joined: 9-9-2008
What is driving this all consuming love? Is she trying to fill a gap in her life, without addressing the real issue? Is she projecting her image of a perfect love, the kind she's always looked for but never found? Is she the kind of person who falls madly, intensely in love and then out again just as easily?

If the answer to these questions and more is ‘how am I supposed to know?’ then the character might be lacking a dimension or two.
TheJagged at 1:05AM, Aug. 24, 2022
posts: 70
joined: 5-27-2021
Does the character have any interests, hobbies or any kind of life outside the main plot? I think that is the crucial difference between making someone feel alive or just a prop to serve the pre-determined story. (Unless your intention is to portray a character inhuman on purpose. That's a deliberate choice then however, and not just lame writing.)

Always think of a character as a person with a life of their own. People got family, friends, ex-boyfriends, stupid interests in random stuff, maybe they're secretely super into embroidery or bird watching or whatever. Have a scene that reveals that, that let's the audience connect, let's you think “Oh yeah, i have stuff like that going on in my life too! I can relate to this.”

Always put yourself in your characters shoes, would YOU behave that way if you were in this situation? Would anyone you know behave similarly or totally different? Draw from real life situation, from your own friends and family and even enemies, even in fantastial settings. Remember, no matter how fantastical the story may be, even if the charatcers are aliens and robots, the characters still nedd to stick to human rules of behavior (because the audience is human and we can only connect to something that at least feels remotely humanoid in its psyche.)

Also make you characters do seemingly pointless stuff sometimes. One youtuber (whose name escapes me) put it perfectly: If a charatcer sees a stick on the ground, let the character pick up the stick and play with it. The stick serves no purpose in the plot, it's just a stick. But humans are curious and playful animals by nature, we like to play with our environment, for no real reason than for the fun of it. Let them have childish moments like that, let them say dumb out of context stuff. Character flaws are indeed writing 101. Flaws humanize characters cause there is no such thing as a perfect human being.

Compare it to real life, how often do you encounter someone where you think, man, this dude has it all figured out. Well paying job, perfect family life… But when you get to know them more, this person is actually not that happy with their job, their family has its own petty fights, their breakfast eggs burn just like my breakfast eggs do… And the more these flaws become apparent, eventually you realize, this guy is a total dork! That's the AHA moment when you break down the idealized version of someone you built in your head and connect to this flawed human being, who is just as flawed you are.

And it doesn't even have to be something that's an outright flaw, just something that every human needs to deal with at some point. Like sleep, eat, use the bathroom, sneezing fits or hiccups. I always felt that was crucial difference bewteen how western media writes its characters (especially its villains) VS how manga/anime/JRPGs do it. In anime i saw villains do things that i never seen villains in american cartoon and movies do. When have you ever seen Darth Vader or Lex Luthor sneeze? Or eat a hot dog? Even villains can't scheme 24/7, at some point you gotta take care of your basic biological functions, brah.
hpkomic at 10:14PM, Aug. 24, 2022
posts: 1,031
joined: 1-1-2006
My solution to this sort of thing is to write material that allows characters to talk and reveal things about themselves outside of the plot and the like. I find writing conversations helps me flesh characters out.
Ozoneocean at 11:41PM, Aug. 24, 2022
posts: 28,631
joined: 1-2-2004
What makes a character 2D for me is if they do not go outside of their initial programming.
i.e. This character is a gay man who's bitchy about clothes, loves Madonna and clubbing.
That's a fine setup, but if they never grow outside of that definition- if they always simply default back to it then they're 2D.

That's not always a bad thing though. Traditional British sitcoms were always like that and still are (at least the radio versions which I listen to now more than I watch TV version). 2D characters are limited but they can work quite well within their parameters.
Ironscarf at 4:52PM, Aug. 25, 2022
posts: 1,889
joined: 9-9-2008
Ozoneocean wrote:

That's not always a bad thing though. Traditional British sitcoms were always like that and still are (at least the radio versions which I listen to now more than I watch TV version). 2D characters are limited but they can work quite well within their parameters.

That's a very important point. A story requires the reader to be given only the relevant information and if every character is fleshed out to the full, we'll never reach a satisfying conclusion. It's human nature to categorise, so easily recognisible traits will do the job a lot of the time, for secondary or background characters. As soon as you give a character a bit of back story, a hint of genuine motivation, then the reader will expect resolution and feel justifiably cheated if they don't get it.
last edited on Aug. 25, 2022 4:55PM
Ozoneocean at 5:41AM, Aug. 30, 2022
posts: 28,631
joined: 1-2-2004
We did a Quackcast based on this :D

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved Mastodon