1. mynameissarahgrace
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    mynameissarahgrace Member

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    Adjectives / phrases to describe personality

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by mynameissarahgrace, Jan 24, 2009.

    I'm completely starting out fresh. I have a tiny idea of what I'd like to write about, but for now I'm just doing character sketches and vignettes, not attached to any story [yet].

    But I'm having a hard time thinking up words to describe the characters I have in my head. I can, but it takes me entire paragraphs to explain a simple trait when I don't have a word for it; and it's REALLY frustrating.

    Could you list some brief descriptions off of the top of your head?
    It could just be something simple like "full of laughs" or "whimsical."

    Hopefully this makes sense!
    Any advice, actually, is helpful.
    Thanks.
     
  2. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    geeky, meek, bashful, hard-ass, sincere. I might need some examples of action or dialogue to really help you.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why don't you just study a slew of published novels to see how the pros do it?
     
  4. lostpyrate
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    lostpyrate Member

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    Yeah, I'm with mammamaia on this one. Read some classics, some new stuff. I've always assumed that, to write, you have to read.

    Also, I always have trouble with character sketches. In fact, I don't do them. I find it much easier to sketch a character when I'm writing. The story always dictates what it needs to be better. Often, the story will present itself as the problem, and finding the right character will solve it.

    For instance, I had a story where a I needed one character (a bartender) to get back together with her ex-husband whom she loathed for a one night stand. How do I get an angry woman to sleep with her ex? Jealousy- I introduced a beautiful redhead at the bar he would soon walk into. My next question was, why would she be open to the ex's advances? Well, it turns out that she was a lover scorned, finding out just a day before that her husband was cheating on her. Add to that the loneliness of Christmas Eve without a person to hold, and she's nearly ripe for picking. I made her young, naive, and impressionable. Turns out, it worked out very well for the story. Very real to life. You can check out how it turned out in the novels section here under Lost Pyrate Confessions.

    I guess I find it hard to do character sketches because it feels like an act of futility. However, I'm sure it's a good thing to do, I'm just a little too lazy sometimes. Best of luck.
     
  5. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Click here: http://www.writingforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=24

    Read those 4 stickied threads that have to do with character development. That should help a ton.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The hell with adjectives and static descriptive phrases. Show the character through his or her actions. Occasionally you need to use adjectives and adverbs, but keep them simple and to the point.
     
  7. mynameissarahgrace
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    mynameissarahgrace Member

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    I definitely read. I read everything. But somehow it's hard to me to translate everything I've read into what I write; I feel intimidated and resort to whatever takes less time. I'm not lazy, but I have low self-confidence some of the time when it comes to writing, although I do love it.
    It always bothers me when authors do things like I do, but I still do...that would be my real problem.

    Thanks for replying, you helped me realize something. :)
    (I need to actually write more.)
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Cogito and mammamaia on this. I would be hard pressed to "develop" characters outside of story context which allows me to illustrate the person's behavior, attitudes and abilities.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    My name is could you post one of those paragraphs for me?

    I will see if I can help you find a word for it or a short phrase. I know I learn best by people giving me examples.
     
  10. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    I would say you need to write LESS! Be brave!
     
  11. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    So true.

    Also, whatever you describe the character as, s/he will eventually have to live up to it. For example, it's no good to give us a slew of adjectives about how funny your Bob is, then have his humor fall flat. Personally, I just skip those empty adjectives and let the readers get to know Bob (and his lame jokes) as the story progresses. I only resort to blatantly descriptive adjectives when working with minor characters; characters who don't get enough word count to develop the long way.
     
  12. Diet Aether
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    Diet Aether Member

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    I always liked showing a persons personality without saying anything about their personality.
    things like:
    Her eyes darted this way and that, two agitated orbs never content to settle on one surface for too long, lest some other part of the room be neglected.

    Random sentence I grabbed from something of mine. The act of simply looking around a room implies more about the characters personality than words could otherwise.
     
  13. JohnNoZ
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    JohnNoZ Member

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    Your problem is that you are using adjectives to tell us about the character. You should show us these characteristics.

    Use the character's actions (or dialog) to show his whimsy, if he is whimsical. Whimsical dialog is far more interesting than serious description about a whimsical character.

    If he is sexist, use his inner dialogue or actions regarding a minor character to show us.

    You can also show us his character by juxtaposing it against an opposite character (often a minor character introduced for just the purpose of helping to fully characterize the Lead).
     

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