1. Cauchemar
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    Cauchemar New Member

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    Bit of a specific request

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Cauchemar, Jun 29, 2010.

    I'm writing a short story about a gay romance in a mental insitution and I'm having trouble developing one of my characters, I'm just not sure what dimensions to add to her.

    What I've got so far:

    22 year old female
    Name: "Charlotte Banks"
    Smokes
    Teetotal
    Used to have a problem with drugs (not heroin)
    Orphan with an older brother who doesnt speak to her


    And thats pretty much all i've got.

    Any help gratefully received! :redface:
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    FYI - a teetotaller would shun drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Teetotaller comes from "Total Temperance" which meant refusing all vices. Along with that would be a very prim attitude, at least in public. Out of public view, not all teetotallers were as virtuous as they pretended to be.

    However, you'll never create a well-rounded character from a list of characteristics. The characteristics may be worth noting, but they can blind you to the inonsistencies and spontaneous behavior in real people.

    Focus on the day to day interactions with other characters, and collect the details as they turn up.
     
  3. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    Take some of your interactions with friends... some of their quirks perhaps and use them to your characters advantage if you get really stuck. Just be sure to ask yourself why the behavior or the characteristic is important to this character before you use it.
     
  4. Cauchemar
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    Cauchemar New Member

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    She *used* to have problems, should have specified the teetotal thing is a recent occurence, sorry :redface:

    And thankyou for the advice!
    Thankyou! :) x
     
  5. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just as a passing comment: TEAtotaller - the etymology of the word is the reference to the fact that the person partakes of nothing stronger than tea. Thus, rather than stronger potables, he or she imbibes tea ... totally.

    Now, as to your character - it's a little difficult for anyone here to be able to provide you with a well-rounded, fully formed character for YOUR story.

    Let's say we created for you a beautifully well-formed, 98.6 character. Now that you've got that character, you will try to force feed her to your story line otherwise already developed. Your story may well go along nicely for a bit and then one of two things will happen. 1) You will try to artificially work all other aspects of the story around that one character's qualities and the result will be a stilted, artificial, 2 dimensional product; or 2) You will quickly discover that your story is developing nicely but you are leaving that character study behind as the rest of the story grows but she doesn't.

    Obviously, neither of those options is what you want. As Corbyn alluded to, get in the habit of studying other people and how they interact. Keep a notebook with you at all times. jot down interesting or memorable moments you see with how people relate to others. It might be something as simple as an 18 yr old grunge opening a door for an upper middle class mum with her baby in a stroller. That's something that goes counter to what people might expect of him. It's an interesting behavior. Jot it down. Or it might be two old ladies helping each other across the street; or the guy who sucks in his gut and stands a bit straighter, combing his hair back as he passes a window and catches his reflection. These are all telling behaviors for one person but, from them, you can extrapolate certain universal behaviors that you can use to breathe life into your characters.

    And, lastly, you will find, as your story progresses, whatever you think of and about your characters, your opinions and your characters will change and grow as your story changes and grows. That's what makes writing so alive! You are the god of your creations.
     
  6. Cauchemar
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    Cauchemar New Member

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    Thankyou, I love the notebook idea, i'll pop out and buy one tomorrow! :)
     
  7. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Who is she in relation to the story? A patient? An orderly? In relation to the main character(s)? Friend? Foe?
     
  8. Cauchemar
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    Cauchemar New Member

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    She's the love interest of the main character, also a patient.

    I just find it easier to get into the mind of my characters if i know a lot about them.
     
  9. Tyler
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    Tyler Member

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    "had a problem with drugs (specifically not heroin)"

    for some reason i laughed at that....anyway, speak of some of her physical features, how they changed through her drug use, and how they describe her personality

    or something....

    i hope that helps a bit
     
  10. eratos
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    eratos New Member

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    Why is she in the mental institution?
    Is she gay?
    Has she ever been in love before?
    Has she been in love with a woman before?
    Why is she drawn to women.
    What women are her type?
    What does she carry in her pocket? Why?
    Why did she have a drug problem?
    Is that related to why she is in the institution?
    Does she have a job, an education?
    Is she in the institution by her own choice?

    Etc...etc... I am a big believer in knowing everything about your character even if you never put most of it to paper.
     

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