I think one of my strongest suits in writing is that I am able to empathize with people and I am a good observer of people...self-titled, I suppose. I, of course, have found that some people cn be glanced right from the surface while others need a little probing. Judging people by their emotions can be confusing but you can never go wrong with estimating their actions. Whatever they say, think, feel, or whatever someone else may say about them, their actions over a period of time provide the clearest answers. The most definite.
When I make my characters I have a lot of tricks. One, I make slight alterations to the people I know. Is that cheating, to plagiarize life? I place them in different situations quite apart from what they do or where they are and that, sometimes, is fun because I like to imagine how some people would react to certain things and situations. In my story, just like in life, I try to employ the principle that people are layers and depending on the pressure or the situation, one layer is removed and another is shown which is varyingly different from the former.
But as for characterization, one of the things I loved is the three-fold horoscope. I love how the horoscope attempts to categorize humanity into twelve types. Almost as if seeing this as way to shallow they create the "moon sign". Now combine the dominant traits of the sun sign with the subtle traits of the moon sign, mix, and you have 144 different types of personalities. Now add the third part, which is the "Rising" sign. Not sure how this factors in, but at this point you know have a total of 1,728 personalities. But what's even more impressive is that each of these individual personalities undergoes external shading by the set of experiences they go through in the story- meaning that even though two people may have the same exact combination of sun-moon-rising sign, their different experiences in life will still make them two different people.
As far as the main story goes, I always have a pretty good idea of what I want my characters to be. But sometimes I feel I am a bit narrow in my casting and attempt to stick random people in there to shake things up. To force me to think and to add spontaniety to the story. I also use them for just general characters. There's never a real need to dive to deep into general characters personality or back story, but having a litle back-drop for your C-characters doesn't hurt too much. I like history, both of the world and of people. I like knowing how both came to be at their present point and on some level, I feel my readers either feel that way or would appreciate my view on the matter.
My most important principle in making people is too imitate real life as much as possible. I try to play with people like I would colors. Realizing that certain colors repulse and attract and that in certain situations, some repulsing colors may be forced into a close union. And that whatever the union, some slide alongside one another while some fuse into a completely different color. There are primary colors and secondary colors. Some colors have a stronger effect over others and some have a weaker effect. Some are bright and some are dark. And, if you imagined them like colored streaks atop water, the whole of humanity moves like shifting tides of colors of emotions, thoughts, and ideas, forming a massive spiritual, emotional, mental current. A stream of conscious and unconscious motives, thoughts, feelings, and intentions that guide their physical world as surely as a steering wheel. I suppose I gave a big clue to one of the things in my writing there...
Bioligcal...moving...breathing. I try to make a story that feels real on a spiritual and emotional level. I want to make a story that fascinates and enthralls a person. Brings them in and immerses them into a second-life- glimpsing a world as one would glimpse earth shaded by the fantastic. And I believe that apart from all the tricks and gimmicks, the flora and fauna, the action and the mystery, it is the people, like real history, that make the story come alive. The personal stories of how they would deal with a situation. How YOU would deal with a situation, and how these situations- though spectacular- mirror your own.
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