How to build a 3D character for your novel.

Part 3 -The Psychological dimensions of your character.

Halloo gentle reader. Apologies for taking so long in between posts, there was/is a pandemic and I got caught up trying to survive. (haven’t we all? Toilet paper is still a nightmare). If you want to catch up, I’m building a character and so far, we’ve explored her physiological dimensions in part 1, and her sociological dimensions in part 2. This will be an exploration of her psychological dimensions for part 3.

I know, these aren’t entirely enough to round her character out, but it’s a good start. I may need to sit my character down and have a chat with her one on one to really get into her headspace. But that’s for another time.

For now, Hanna is still haunting my daydreams. Last time I saw her, she stood in front of her bedroom window, looking twenty stories down at a futuristic cityscape. She wore a man’s white vest and baggy pants held up over one shoulder with red plaid suspenders. She had just placed her hand into a tabletop device that drew blood from her finger for her daily Corona test. The machine gave a quiet beep, flashed green, and threw up a QR code on a screen. The code would automatically be listed on the city database. She’d need to upload the QR to her phone to be able to move around the city. So far, she’s escaped the virus.

Somewhere deep in the back of my mind, Hanna has been going about her business and we still haven’t gotten to know her psychological dimensions. These aspects of character encompass whatever goes on in her headspace. What is her IQ? Does she possess McGuyver levels of complementary intelligence? What are the habits/traits she possesses?

Where does her consciousness lie? Does she function at higher neocortical levels where love and acceptance predominate or is she a creature of the lower consciousness? At the lower level of mental processing expect all of the ‘lesser’ appetites to come to the fore e.g. violence, sex, hedonism and hate.

We also must consider what Hanna fears, what she is drawn to. Does she have any guilty pleasures? What inhibits her? What are her fondest fantasies? When we’ve completed her psychological picture, we should understand her motivations; why she does what she does. How she behaves arises from the matrix of her physical, social and psychological dimensions. Only when we fully realize these facets to our character can we put her into the worlds we create. And (I hope) she’ll take on a life of her own.

The Hannah I see in my imagination is a wonderful woman. Soft when she needs to be but her mind is made of pure steel. When she makes up her mind, she is unyielding. She learned this from her mother; Hannah grew up watching her work two, sometimes three jobs to keep house and home together. And through it all, her mother kept her humor, her sense of wonder and her peaceful nature. In a very real way, Hannah tried to become everything her mother was before she passed. She was a pillar of strength and courage in the chaotic life they lived. Always willing to listen, to help, to protect and to love. She died from complications of Covid 19, all the way back in 2021, during the third most fatal wave of the disease.

And always, at the back of her mind, Hannah remembers Matthew and Jake. The way Matt looked at her as though she was made out of something magical. When he died, as the memories of him gradually disappeared, they left her empty and aching. No other man ever came close to filling the space Matt left.

Sometimes she remembered when Jake would climb her side of the bed to sleep and snore right into her face. She could still smell his doggie breath, sour, sticky, and gross. His soft ears flopped on her cheek, along her neck. Sometimes he would dream, whining and jerking, chasing doggie dreams for long minutes, eyes half closed and panting. Sometimes Hannah couldn’t bear to think about Jake and Matthew at all, it hurt too much.

That’s why Hanna danced. Whenever the memories flooded back, whenever she felt her heart break, whenever she saw a smiley doggo, she couldn’t wait to lock herself in her little apartment and crank up the music. She danced to Marley and Machel (Montano). Reggae and soca, Anything loud and rhythmic. Anything to help her remember, anything to help her forget.

It was in the innocence of children though, that Hannah lost herself. Their laughter, their pure delight filled her heart. She lived for them, loved the sound of them playing. She would do anything for her students. Often she caught herself giving away her lunch to some little one who didn’t have enough to eat. When she started bringing extra food, she didn’t even know.

Her children needed her and she couldn’t hesitate to help when they needed helping. Perhaps she went a bit overboard spending what little money she had to give to her charges but she never counted the cost. She felt it was her responsibility to help those less fortunate than herself.

There were dark days though. Gloomy days when her soul could not fathom why she still existed. On those days she could barely get out of bed, and she drank. Nothing fancy, wine most days, and nothing expensive either. Riunite Peach Moscato was her favorite, though some days a White Zinfandel was divine. One bottle was enough to help her get out of bed, and there was usually just enough to help her get back in later.

She’d need company on those days. Someone to hold her, to touch her and to take her out of her thoughts. To force her to be present, and set fire to her nerve endings - enough to light up the empty spaces echoing inside her. She felt haunted, as if Matthew and Jake would never leave her. The men were easy to find. Thankfully those days were few, and between her duties at the kindergarten and her few friends, she lived a full life.

She needed to know though. She had to know if Matthew and Jake were ok. Where were they beyond the barrier between what lived and what …didn’t? Could she find him? Speak to him? Would Jake be there? Would he remember her? Was she crazy for even wondering? How long would she drift through life waiting and wondering where the loves of her life disappeared to? Of course they were all right. Matthew was practically a saint and Jake was nothing less than an angel with paws. Of course they were all right she told herself.

But she couldn’t help it, she tried to find out, so she searched for answers everywhere there were clues.

There you have it my reading friend. Hannah’s motivations, her inner conflicts and torments, her reasons for doing and being who she is. She is her own person, with a life she created out of the challenges and victories she has had. I wish I could meet my dear Hannah, I’d love to sit and chat with her for a bit to get to know her better. As a matter of fact, that will be my next post. To fill in the gaps of Hannah, we’ll need to sit and chat. Stay tuned.
With love,
Mitch.

Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.

📝Not all who wander are lost. But I'm often lost wondering.

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