1. theceltic
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    theceltic New Member

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    Beginners Help Please

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by theceltic, Nov 19, 2012.

    Hello Everyone,
    I am very new here and I would first like to thank all of you for your time and helping me and I hope one day I can do the same for you . I have had this idea for a book in my head for years now and I have finally decided that, at whatever pace, I am going to start writing it little by little. My first task I wanted to overcome was that of creating characters. I have a solid idea of a few of them and couple are very slim but could develop. As of right now I have 10 characters that are all in their own ways major characters. Eventually there will be secondary characters that won't get as much back story or development but that is for a later time. Right now my biggest dilemma is if I want to create another character and make them the clear cut protagonist or if I want to use one of my existing characters. I wanted to know if there were some pros and cons that you could think of.
    Otherwise if anyone has some personal comments on how to go about creating a story I would really like to hear them. For instance if it has worked better for you to write the scene first and move into plot or vice verse or any other combination. Thank you all for taking the time to read this and I do look forward to all of your responses. If you ever need more information just let me know or send me a message, still a little shy about posting my work just yet. Thank you all again!
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Pick the mc - main character/hero who will best showcase your plot. It will be his goals
    and conflicts that will drive it.
    Think of Luke Skywalker - there's dozens of characters in Star Wars all of which would've been
    interesting in the mc's role - but he is perfect, the reader can relate to his journey, his dreams,
    goals and conflicts.
     
  3. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Well theceltic I understand you predicament well enough having gone through a round of similar choices recently. On that note, I agree with peach here, but I will add a little to it. You are right in starting with the characters. every good story should have good characters. In most cases one will have a story to tell and then create a character to fit the story. But you then want to flesh out the characters as much as possible before writing the bulk of the story [e.g. who are they, how do they relate to eachother, where are they from, what type of life do they have what are their goals apart from the story that they get thrown into, what are their goals within the story etc.]

    I know how hard it is to choose an MC when you have a lot of major character and they all are important to the story, at east initially. There really is not best way, I think but here are a a few options I'd consider:

    1. look at where you want to go with your story, then choose a character whose lens best depicts the story you want to tell.
    * In this method, you consider your story and you think about which character would tell it best.
    * Who has the most interesting take
    2. look at your characters, and choose one who has the most interesting story
    *That is, the one who is most affected, has the most to gain or lose, has the best goal or ambition, can see the most growth, and consequently who would have a life worth
    reading about.
    * In this method, the character's life makes the story.
    3. If you are more certain in the story, the more obvious method for choosing your MC is deciding who has the biggest role or the most "screen time" [if this were a movie] lol

    In any event it is important to choose an MC because, as Peach mentioned, his/or her motives and trials will guide the events of the story. You want your characters to make the story happen, not have it happen to them. For instance, Batman does not just fight The Joker because he has too, but because his vow to protect Gotham and his moral code drive him to.

    I would probably use an existing character because they are already involved in the story. Adding a new character to make the story happen... doesn't usually work well [I always ended up rewriting it without them. :p ] That said, do any of your 10 out shine the others? If so, the others should be the "major" secondary characters, and all other characters should be tethered to them, I think--that is if the "secondary" characters you refer to are just like the friend, the brother, the mom, an uncle, a teacher, etc. That said, The only one who needs a detailed back story is the MC because the back story is the nest that the MC was born into, it builds them. And you can browse the Forum for the numerous posts on how to introduce backstory. The other characters back story may be important but not all 10 of them need that kind of face-time. Perhaps 2 or 3, maybe 4 who are central to the story.

    I wrote 300 pages worth of material with characters who were important initially, but gradually lost importance until they were just extras. even my MC loses importance compared to a character that wasn't introduced until nearly 1/3 of the way in. So as I rewrite the story, I'm re-evaluating my characters and deciding who stays and goes. my Original MC can't go-- without him, the entire universe my story is set in doesn't exist [nor does the new MC or the Villain] I'd have toe tel a brand new story. lol It's all a part of the fun though :)
     
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  4. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Andrae's #2 is best. A good novel isn't just a collection of events. It should have a series of obstacles for the MC, who has a lot to gain or lose, and every time he overcomes an obstacle it creates a bigger obstacle until the climax resolves it all. The MC should be changed by the experiences.
     
  5. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    What made Skywalker's role work, and any good novel is what's called a "Character Arc." And it runs hand-in-hand with your plot, and actually may be more important then the plot, because the underlying activities of the MC to grow drive things along.

    Character arcs start with the MC, then somewhere along comes an event that forces he/she to change, and then it runs through the internal or external conflicts he or she faces to deal with that transformational moment. In the end, the MC comes out a changed person in some way from how they started the story/novel/play/movie.

    Some can be small enough for a single novel, while others may be so large it takes multiple ones to complete-or it could be a constantly running arc. All depends on the character and story involved.

    I recommend doing a google search on the subject and "Mark's character arc" online. While she refers to script's, they're plenty of ideas that work in novels too. I hope this helps.
     
  6. divided_crown
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    divided_crown Member

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    My most important realization about character arc templates and such was that they are best applied retroactively. Know what your character will go through first (even if just roughly), THEN apply structure - not the other way around.

    The main thing you need to do is look at your story's end, and then at its beginning - who changes the most? Who has the most interesting experience? Who do you feel the most sympathy for?
     
  7. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I've found the opposite to be true, that the arc, and journey, can be open and free flowing because characters are like real people: their reactions and changes are different. No one character ends up the same way, so rigidly setting the arc makes it very hard to allow freedom for growth.

    While I wrote the last chapter or my novel in it's second draft last week (mainly to do it while it was in my mind) a rigid timeline/outline for me would've screwed this effort to high heaven because a massive realization, leading to a change in the world and the characters as they move forwards in the next novel, occurred. By keeping it free flowing, it's provided the ability to start to put the threads in place that'll tie into the next one. It would've been impossible if I'd rigidly controlled my novel to the nth degree though.

    There's just more then one way to skin a cat, and we all have different ways of getting to the end point.
     
  8. Krazyskooter
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    Krazyskooter New Member

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    Ten main characters is a bit much, in my opinion. It's hard to remember who's who, but if you're going to do it I suggest reading George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Since it's written through many points of view and has a lot of Main Characters.
     
  9. Jon Deavers
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    Jon Deavers Member

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    Depending on the scope of your project, Krazyskooter makes a good recommendation to check out for a large cast of characters.

    Also being a novice at this, I would recommend a different approach. I had a similar issue with a large stable of characters and a story with a huge scope brewing. I honestly couldn't get any kind of story arc nailed down that was coherent so I took all of the background work I had been collecting in characters, settings, etc. and used that as a world within which to base a more focused story. All the leftover background work still informs richly detailed narration and dialog even if it's not directly referenced. And you never know, you may just decide to do multiple tales in the same universe effectively recycling your background material.

    Most of the characters I had created before distilling my raw material (when I took an honest appraisal of them, at least) had a lot of overlapping qualities and I was able to consolidate many of them with relative ease. I think it's important to be able to streamline your story and its components whenever possible. Hope this helps!
     
  10. DDNeal
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    DDNeal Member

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    I've had an idea for an epic fantasy series for about 8 years now and I keep working on it by just telling myself the stories in it over and over again. They characters keep evolving and the plot and world has changed. All for the better. I've also started writing and thats why I'm here. But I won't work on penning my main idea untill I've already become an author.

    Personally I think the more characters the better. Think of the number of people you interact with on a daily basis. There are a lot. By having different characters you can show more about your main characters than you can with a very small group.
     
  11. phil1923
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    phil1923 New Member

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    The problem I have been having is that the story I have in my head encompasses the entire planet and even some about off our planet. The story seems too big for me to be able to create a main character. I dont know how to tell the whole story but have a main character included in the whole thing.
     

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