1. 5Bijou5
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    5Bijou5 New Member

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    Boring Characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by 5Bijou5, May 10, 2013.

    Hi y'all, I am new to this site so I am sorry if I am doing anything incorrectly.
    I need some help with my characters. They are really boring. I was scared of making them stereotypical, or mary-sues and I wanted them to be realistic, so I made them very, very, believably realistic. Problem is real people are so boring. I find myself not caring about what they think or do, and I know my readers would treat them like any person they met on the street. They wouldn't want their opinion or life story. It's not that they are one-dimensional they are just so average. How can I make them more interesting and likable?
    Also by the way I am trying to write YA fiction.
     
  2. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Depends. Are they boring or just mundane? If they really are boring then you want to think about why you want to write about those characters.
     
  3. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    Real people are never boring. Even every day problems are interesting, if you really get inside peoples heads. If you don't care about your characters, why would anyone else?
     
  4. 5Bijou5
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    5Bijou5 New Member

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    I am thinking they are more mundane. Most of them are in high-school, they either come from upper-middle class or are the kids of CEOs....My current main is an ungrateful girl from a rich family that ran away, we also got a high-school failure from a military family, a violent middle class girl from a broken home, and the spiteful only child of a politician. :/
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Are real people boring to you? If so, you may have a very difficult time writing interesting characters.

    In the other hand, if you find people interesting in real life, people you don't want something from (self-serving interest doesn't count), you have a good bassis for making interesting characters. Just examine what fascinates you about various people.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why is this a boring group? Any half-decent writer could make a good story from this raw material. If your characters aren't interesting to you, you're probably not digging deep enough into them. I agree with BritInFrance - real people are never boring.
     
  7. 5Bijou5
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    5Bijou5 New Member

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    I already have a plot, I made it first then designed characters to fit it. I think I found where we are mis-communicating. In normal fiction this would be a good, textured group of people, but YA fiction the books normally are a little more out there. Of course we all know the vampire and werewolf YA characters (unfortunately) but YA books also include but are not limited too aliens, zombies, gods, half-angels, fairies, a shape shifting half water-god child, and in one of my favorite YA series by Maggie Steifvater stars an ex-rockstar who is now a mad scientist werewolf.
    I think that is why I feel my characters are a touch dull.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Those don't sound average to me, they sound below average. That is, it sounds like you took the writing tendency to make all characters too good and powerful and successful, and instead made them all too bad and powerless and unsuccessful. That's just as boring as the reverse.

    I would suggest trying some _truly_ average characters, such as a good-natured B-minus student who's not bad at basketball but not quite good enough to make the team, with parents who had a fairly amicable divorce and a mother who's just starting to date again. There's a barrel of events and conflict available in that situation. And then if you introduce something exotic in the _setting_, it's likely to be far more interesting, due to the contrast between the ordinary and reasonably likable character, and the dramatic elements of the setting.

    Edited to add: Dorothy (Gale) was an ordinary girl. So was Alice Liddel. Harry (Potter) was a pretty ordinary boy - he was famous, but he wasn't actually extraordinary. Lucy Pevensie (Lion Witch Wardrobe) and her siblings were ordinary kids. And so on. Exotic characters are much less interesting than ordinary ones.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But it doesn't have to be that way. Aren't there any YA books these days that deal with normal humans facing normal human problems? When I was growing up, a very popular YA book was The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. It was made into a movie by Francis Ford Coppola. It's powerful stuff about realistic teenagers. Not everybody has to be a wizard or a vampire or an alien. Normal humans are plenty good enough!

    EDIT: It might be a mistake to create a plot and then design characters to fit it. Create characters first, then let them lead you to the plot.
     
  10. 5Bijou5
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    5Bijou5 New Member

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    yes I read the Outsiders and saw the movie, it was awesome. I know you aren't supposed to do the plot first but unfortunately that is the only way I can get anywhere :( I tend to treat my characters the same way I treated dolls when I was a kid. Set them up, create perfect back stories, put them in the right settings in the right positions then I don't want to touch them/move them/ play with them because I like them where they are. So my stories always stall... :p
     
  11. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Yes, all of this.

    There are still tons of YA books that are coming of age stories that are centered around the things most people go through at some point or another. Whether or not something is big to someone depends on their previous experiences. One person's idea of a horrible day may be their car getting a scratch while another person's idea of a horrible day would be finding out their car is going to need two grand in repairs. The peoples' reactions could be identical but this is due to their own perspectives in their lives. To someone who has constant car troubles a scratch is a minor irritation as long as their car is running. To someone who has had an easy life with little trouble a scratch on their car would be a big deal to them.

    I'm concerned you find people so boring yet you want to write. Maybe it's just your understanding of the people you interact with on a day to day basis? Everyone has a story. If you ask questions and are engaged in what people are saying you can learn some interesting things about people. The other week I met a man who was born in a mud hut in Ethiopia. His dad wasn't from there but his mom was and they wound up moving to the U.S. when he was still a baby. He's currently starting his own business where he's trying to make a product for schools. All I know is it involved double sided tape. You'd never know it from looking at him. People have interesting complex inner lives that we never see unless we are close to them or willing to hear their stories. You hear a lot of interesting stories if you talk to people. I don't find people boring in the slightest. Especially if you go to places like waffle house. lol There's always interesting people at places like that!
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    A good way of making your characters more interesting is to give them desires, goals, interests, worries, fears, obsticles.
    Even a werewolf should have worries, goals, interests - not important, per say, to the plot. That adds depth.
     
  13. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    There's some great information here! More important than anything else, though, I think, is that you don't compare your ideas to other YA fiction. Who cares what everyone else is doing? Do what you want to do.

    I don't think it's for everyone but the ultimate mundane story to me is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. The characters are so simple they don't even get names. The plot is so simple... I won't give away the ending. :) That novella changed my writing dramatically for the better and really shifted my view.

    I've created a number of simple characters. The key is to find something compelling about them, something that grabs your interest. You have to find passion in your characters or they're just going to be cardboard cutouts. peachalulu hit it on the nose. Find interests and goals for your characters. Maybe one plays in the high school band and aspires to be a composer or cellist in the New York Philharmonic or something. Maybe someone's a bookwork and constantly makes literary references or loves movies and makes movie references. Maybe they're obsessed with Star Wars or My Little Ponies. Maybe one wants to be a fashion designer and makes horrendous outfits for herself (she's no good but all her friends are too nice to tell her so).

    Take a step back, though. What is the purpose of characters in a story? To facilitate the plot? Yes but there's more to them than that. Characters are our way of getting into a story. They have to be platforms onto which we can get and enter the story. As such, they must be built for us to empathize with. This means there's something about them that draws us in and allows us to invest ourselves in their fates.

    Whenever I'm making characters, I start at the beginning. I get to know their parents and figure out how their lives have gone. What family is involved in their lives? How did their schooling go? What kind of friends did they have and what influences did they exert upon their lives? Were they drawn to a hobby or area of study?

    I'm sure a lot of this was unnecessary but I hope something here was helpful. :)
     
  14. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Story and character are one: it's going round the hard way to create either the plot or the characters separately. They both grow out of the idea together. Usually that starts with a random scene playing out in your head. One that already has characters interacting with one another: then that scene suggest other scenes; and those suggest an over all plot. This way all of your main characters are already invested in your story--they already come with their own goals and/or motivations. Everybody does the things they do for reasons, and those actions have consequences: it is the action vs reaction that makes up the plot. (the cause and effect cascade) For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Never plan out the plot, just make a rough outline of where it might go. Then let the characters act their way into and out of crisis. That way it's never boring.
     

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